When I meet someone socially and they discover I cover the NBA, you'd be surprised how many times I hear something like, "I prefer college basketball because it's pure."
Those people usually are stunned by my reply: "Not only is the college game not pure, it's much more corrupt than the NBA."
In the NBA, the players are professionals. They're paid to play basketball and their compensation is out in the open. Sure, some are overpaid slackers more concerned with their paycheck than winning, but the vast majority are hard-workers who do what they can to help their team win.
In the college game, there are many upstanding programs that do everything by the book, but quite a few are shams. The players aren't legitimate students and certainly aren't uncompensated amateurs.
Whether the funds are given directly to the player or indirectly through a relative, many players are paid to play. The NCAA? It's mostly an impotent organization. Sure, they hand out penalties, but it's like a police department issuing parking tickets while more serious crimes go unpunished.
The ruling handed down on the Memphis basketball program on Thursday is a major example. For violations that, if true, are serious infractions, the NCAA announced that it was stripping Memphis of its 38 wins from two years ago. But the program won't lose any scholarships and coach John Calipari - who's now at Kentucky - won't be punished at all.
Memphis' violation was using an ineligible player that season -- Bulls guard Derrick Rose. He was accused of having someone else take his ACT exam and his brother, Reggie, allegedly received free transportation on team charters and free lodging at team hotels.
Although Rose maintains he did nothing wrong, the NCAA, by handing down its ruling, is saying the allegations are true.
I don't know if the allegations against Rose are true, but I know this much: this sort of thing goes on all the time in college sports.