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Sometimes, I wonder if Mark Emmert is John Gotti.

You know, in a “Teflon Don” sort of way.

Emmert, who runs the NCAA, seems to be immune to scandal. Whether it’s college basketball coaches and shoe companies paying players to play or universities getting paid for students not to play, it’s sure appears that the NCAA doesn’t get the heat it should for not holding coaches accountable or making sure their membership doesn’t run a back-door play to allow those from privilege to pay their way onto campus by falsely representing themselves as “athletes.”

The NCAA Tournament got underway Tuesday. The event really gets cranked up Thursday. And once the ball is tossed up and the clock starts ticking, no one is going to care about Lori Laughlin, Felicity Huffman and water polo coaches at USC. No one’s going to be wringing their hands over Tony Bland, Chuck Person and other college hoops assistants who have been nabbed by the FBI, which did the NCAA’s dirty work for it.

The only thing that matters is whether your bracket is dead or alive and whether to make that in-game wager on your phone app.

One thing I’ve learned about fans and bettors over the 40-plus years I’ve been around college basketball, their priorities are different than the rest of the world’s. It’s all about winning, the rules be damned.

The adage “If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” remains in play. LSU is contemplating reinstatating its coach despite the fact he is implicated in the bribery scandal. That the Tigers could make a deep run in the NCAAs probably is weighing in the school’s president’s decision After all, if LSU were, say, Cal-State Northridge, it would be fait accompli — Will Wade would be gone for good.

But winning trumps justice. Funny how that works.

We can get all sanctimonious about rules and lack of enforcement. We can demand equal playing fields. We can call for the ouster of the cheaters.

In the end, it all falls on deaf ears. We truly don’t care. For if we did, Emmert and his minions would have been out long ago. 

The broken system that is the NCAA would have been fixed. Universities would not do business with the William Singers of the world who “arrange” for those who may not qualify to attend a college make sure they get access to the quad.

Instead, children of the rich and famous will continue to get into universities they have no business attending. College coaches will continue to cut corners in order to win and maintain their jobs. Instead of cleaning up the corruption within its own house, the NCAA will continue its misguided and hypocritical stance on sports betting, fighting the industry that has gone out of its way to protect the very integrity of the NCAA’s events.

So by all means, continue not to give a damn. Worry about those parlays, those in-game wagers and your brackets. After all, it’s about priorities, isn’t it? You’re no different than the schools you bet on.

In the end, it’s all about winning.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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