Arrogance, Louisville-Style

The University of Louisville has decided to self-punish

Accused of hosting sex parties in an athletic dorm as many as twenty-two times in a four-year period, led by the Director of Basketball Operations, using university funds and game tickets to compensate potentially underage prostitutes brought to campus by their mother-slash-pimp, and offering the services of those potentially-underage daughter-whores to potentially-underage recruits to influence their college decisions, the University of Louisville has decided that an appropriate, proportional punishment is to not participate in one year’s worth of post-season play.

Go back and read that last paragraph.  I’ll wait.  In fact, pardon me for a second – you read, I’ll vomit.

Sex parties in the athletic dorm.  Okay, I’ll accept that.  Teenagers get it on.  That’s not news. 

Potentially-underage prostitutes employed by their mother-pimp.  Do I have your attention now?

Paid for with University funds.  And game tickets.  By the Director of Basketball Operations, Andre McGee. 

Prostituting your children for tickets to a basketball game.  An executive-level University employee providing the tickets and requesting the services.  Are you starting to get the picture?

Influencing the biggest decision of a number of young men’s lives by enticing them with sex and booze – never mind the NCAA rules, where the hell are your morals?  Is basketball so important to you that you will sell your soul to win a few games?  Hang a banner?  What price is a young man’s life?

One tournament.  Dozens of young lives affected, and apparently to the University of Louisville, the sum total of the value of those lives is one tournament.

I honestly don’t think most Louisville fans, or even most basketball fans, understand how deeply this is going to be felt on a college campus that already has a problem with patriarchy and women’s rights.

This isn’t about basketball, or impermissible benefits, or a lack of institutional control.

This is about, in 2016, in a place of higher education that is supposed to stand for equal opportunity for black and white, men and women alike, a situation where affluent (mostly white) men exploited the poverty and miseducation of disadvantaged black women, some of them underage.  If you don’t think this is about the powerful using the weak to accomplish their goals, with blatant disregard for the welfare of the exploited, you’re just not paying attention.  Empowered women don’t sell their bodies, and the bodies of their children, for a hundred bucks or a pair of game tickets.  These men exploited women conditioned to generational poverty and desperation, those most vulnerable to exploitation by those who have what they want – no, need. 

Using your position of wealth and power to exploit the weak and hungry is the very base of evil.

And the purpose of that exploitation was to manipulate and exploit young, impressionable black men with the vices that are the root of the worst of racist stereotypes – the idea that black men are powerless against booze and sex.  These young men were seeking a place to trade basketball for education.  That, in itself, is an appalling level of exploitation that goes on every day at every collegiate athletic program.  Old rich men make the argument every day that an athletic scholarship – the opportunity to earn a degree and make a decent living – is sufficient recompense for the up-front guaranteed millions that athletic departments, by rule, are not allowed to share with them.  This is, of course, ludicrous.  We make millions now, and in return, we give you permission to earn for yourself a means by which you’ll be allowed to be paid fairly for a lifetime of hard work.  Let us exploit you now, and we’ll let you try and earn a pass from the worst of a future of exploitation.

But that wasn’t bad enough for Louisville.  To add insult to injury, we’re going to recruit you into our exploitation scheme as if you are a base-level animal, controlled by your id alone, dangling sex and booze and a decadent, entitled lifestyle before you as a reward for your ability to put a ball through a hoop.  You’re not going to be swayed by the benefits of a college degree from a major university.  You don’t care about the millions of dollars that Tom Jurich says we have to spend on facilities to lure recruits – wow, was that a lie!  Apparently we don’t need new practice facilities and an arena that’s a massive screw job to the local economy.  Young black men don’t come to college for degrees or a great faculty or a school that takes care of them with fine facilities and good coaches who preach integrity and respect. 

Young black men want big-screen TVs, blunts, 40-ouncers and bitches.  That’s the University of Louisville way.  Education?  Nah, come spend four years in a Big Sean video.

And the purpose of THAT exploitation was to win more BASKETBALL GAMES so that the rich old white men in charge could make more money and perpetuate the system of patriarchy and oligarchy that keeps them in charge.  What other purpose could there be?  The University of Louisville athletic program, as Mr. Jurich keeps reminding us, is the most profitable, richest athletic department in American college sports.  Think about where that money goes – some of it to great effect, like the funding of non-revenue sports, women’s sports, and a huge annual donation to the University’s general scholarship fund.  But the overwhelming majority funds the salaries of those in charge.  Rick Pitino will make over $6 million this year.  Tom Jurich will make $1.4 million this year.  Bobby Petrino, a man Tom Jurich hired despite his own sex scandal, will make $3 million this year. 

Do you think the University of Louisville can afford $10.4 million for three men unless they continue to deliver the Derrick Caracters and the Montrezl Harrells and the Wayne Blackshears to their program?   On one hand, you pay a six-million-dollar coach to win.  But look at it the other way – you need wins to make the money to pay that coach.  How much easier is it to make a deep tournament run and the money that comes with network TV exposure if you can get Antonio Blakeney and JaQuan Lyle?

It’s a scam.  A pyramid scheme.  They don’t care about winning games for the fans, or the University, and they may enjoy the glory and the fame, but those come with the territory.  It’s about the money.  It’s old white men trading a maybe-degree to young black men so that the old white men can continue to bring in the revenue that pays their salaries.   

To a point, it applies to all college sports.  And that’s wrong.  But the hubris with which this was done at U of L really speaks to something deeper.

College sports exploit poor kids who can’t otherwise afford education, often black, and make millions for already-wealthy people while pretending that a college degree and the opportunity to make a good living is equal recompense for actual, up-front millions.  Communities are exploited for money, land, facilities, etc. to fund these programs out of civic pride and fanhood.

But it’s not just naked like this, everywhere.

I’m sure recruits meet pretty girls on every campus, and some of those girls take one for the team.  But prostitution?

I’m sure recruits go to parties on every campus, and drinking goes on at some of those parties.  But a coach helping players beat the dorm rules?

I’m sure fans and boosters do things at every school to help get recruits.  Some of those things are really shady.  But prostituting your daughters because #L1C4

Speaking of #L1C4, do you think it ever crossed any young man’s mind that “Louisville First, Cards Forever” means they’ll be thrown under the bus for the good of the University when times get tough?  Did Trey Lewis and Damion Lee ever think that Louisville would sacrifice their career peak to atone for crimes committed while they were at Drexel and Cleveland State?  Apparently loyalty only works in one direction at Louisville.

I don’t want to portray myself as justifying the lesser sins of other schools because they’re not as severe, but apparently the NCAA doesn’t mind at all.  My point of contention is that if the NCAA chooses to overlook the shadowy stuff, that’s one (very distasteful) thing, but the Louisville administration just acted like nobody cared, like even if they got caught, it would get swept under the rug. 

This is about all those things I’ve listed above.  But it’s also about entitlement and hubris.  The particular crimes just reinforce the reason that the penalty for these crimes must be severe.  It’s just as much about the attitude that this is okay, as it is about the crimes themselves.

Do y’all get that? THIS IS NOT ABOUT BASKETBALL.

This is about poverty exploitation.  Like the Nike workers who make $0.60 a day to make Jordan Brand shoes in Indonesia and China.

This is about the undue importance of sports in a community – this woman was willing to prostitute her daughters to help a BASKETBALL TEAM.  Because she was a fan.

This is about human trafficking – powerful people using poor people for their own purposes and then discarding them when they are no longer useful.

This is about patriarchy – the power that men have over women just because they’re men.

This is about rape culture – the idea that it’s okay because it’s what some man wants, and the power is his.

This is about racism – young black men and women being exploited coming and going, using the worse stereotypes of institutional and cultural racism to which all Americans are conditioned from birth.

And that’s just what I see.  I’m positive that someone smarter than me can see even deeper into this pit of filth and depravity.

But it comes down to this:  I have a daughter.  The Death Penalty is too good for them.

Tim Druck is a United States Navy veteran, a mechanic, a bass guitarist and a photographer who tends to write about whatever comes to mind at any given moment, proving that one can be prolific and sporadic at the same time.
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