A day after arrests and scandal rocked college basketball, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber admitted it’s hard to feel good about the current state of the sport.
“Obviously, yesterday was not maybe the best day in the history of college basketball,” Weber said Wednesday at K-State’s annual media day. “It’s tough. I feel bad for individuals and bad for schools.”
The FBI arrested assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California. Six others with ties to college basketball were taken into custody along with them amid charges of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.
Things didn’t get better Wednesday. Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were each placed on unpaid leave following the release of federal documents that allege a Louisville assistant was caught on a wiretap trying to arrange for Adidas, the apparel company that sponsors the Cardinals, to make a six-figure payment for a recruit to attend the school.
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Many have suspected this type of behavior from college basketball programs. Still, the proof was difficult to take.
“The only thing I can feel good about is, as an individual, I have always tried to have high standards for myself,” Weber said, “and also for our staff, and do things the right way. By no means am I perfect. I don’t want to say that, but we are very proud of the way we do things at K-State.”
Weber has been a head coach since 1998; he got his start as an assistant in 1979 at Western Kentucky. During that time, he has built a reputation as one of the cleanest recruiters in the game. He is respected by his coaching peers.
He says he shows up to work every day hoping to recruit and coach by NCAA rules. He holds himself to “a high standard.”
“Our players are ones that our K-State fans are proud to have as a part of our team,” Weber said. “A couple years ago, I said I want kids that K-Staters are proud of and that play the right way, treat people the right way and act the right way. I feel really good about our group and am excited for the upcoming season.”
Former K-State star Michael Beasley is among those offering opinions on the national situation. Now playing for the New York Knicks, Beasley argued Wednesday that the NCAA would be wise to start paying its student-athletes.
“We bring a lot to these schools,” Beasley told reporters. “We can’t even park in front of the arenas before games. They still make us as freshmen park two parking lots away from the dorm rooms when it’s freezing cold. Should guys be compensated for their work? Yes. Most of us don’t make it to this level (the NBA). I do think guys should be getting paid. The NCAA is making billions, not just off basketball — football, soccer.”
Beasley thinks that is unfair.
“I didn’t get paid to go to Kansas State,” Beasley said. “We did it the right way. Frank (Martin) is a morally humble guy. I have confidence in his ways of basketball recruiting. Him throwing a dollar out? Listen, he’s cheap.”
Martin coached at K-State from 2007-12. He employed Lamont Evans, now an Oklahoma State assistant, for one season. Evans reportedly surrendered to federal authorities on Wednesday after court documents showed that Evans accepted at least $22,000 in bribe money to steer athletes toward financial advisers while working at South Carolina and Oklahoma State.
Evans has been suspended by Oklahoma State.
College basketball practice begins Friday across the nation. It may be hard for coaches and fans to focus on the upcoming season, but that is the only thing Weber will think about in the coming days.
“I have been in it a long time and I think I know what is going on in the world of basketball,” Weber said. “But, again, all I can worry about is K-State and Bruce Weber and our coaching staff. That is all I can really focus on, and just doing things in the way that I believe are the right way, and hopefully a standard that people are proud of.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett