ATHENS, Ga. — The latest round of shock waves sent through college basketball by the wide-ranging FBI investigation into the sport has left dozens of programs scrambling for answers, but Georgia’s Mark Fox was clear about his feelings on the sport’s current woes.
“I’m disgusted,” said Fox, one of the most vocal advocates for a massive overhaul to college basketball ethics, after his team’s 93-82 win on Saturday. “I’m disgusted with how people have treated our game. It’s absolutely disgusting.”
Fox, whose Bulldogs beat LSU — a program named in the latest round of stories as providing impermissible benefits to past players — said the issues have been simmering beneath the surface for years, and the blame lies primarily with coaches and member institutions who have flouted the rules.
“It starts with our coaches, and then you ask how the NCAA has handled it,” Fox said. “The NCAA is made up of member institutions. How are the institutions handling it? That’d be my first question. How are they handling it? Putting their head in the sand and looking the other way? I’m past anger, sadness. It’s just disgusting, and we’re really hurting the game, and the game has been so good to everybody.”
“I would like to see institutions take the lead and show true leadership and stand up for something. But I don’t have a lot of confidence we’re going to see that. We’ll all just blame the NCAA and the media.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox
Fox’s Georgia team is now 16-12 and likely outside the NCAA tournament, but the coach has steadfastly maintained that his program has been hurt by others ignoring NCAA rules.
“We’ve had some situations where we didn’t get players because of that reason, and other teams have, too,” Fox said, noting that the FBI investigation has shined a light on issues that had long simmered in the shadows. “I still believe you can do this job the right way, and that’s how we’re going to do it.”
LSU head coach Will Wade largely deferred to a statement released by his athletic director, Joe Alleva, when pressed on the recent allegations. LSU said Friday that it had undertaken a “proactive and voluntary examination of current coaches and players” in the fall of 2017 and “found the program in full compliance.” Wade was not LSU’s coach when the players were alleged to have received improper benefits.
That echoed the responses of several schools in the aftermath of allegations, and while not naming any individual schools, Fox said he’s dubious many institutions will take the initiative to enact real change.
“I would like to see institutions take the lead and show true leadership and stand up for something,” he said in a postgame interview Saturday. “But I don’t have a lot of confidence we’re going to see that. We’ll all just blame the NCAA and the media.”