FAYETTEVILLE -- Changing the investigative acronym from NCAA to FBI ought to have the upstanding coaches and administrators in college athletics applauding, and the soiled and seedy eyeing whatever foreign country might take them.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association might wink at ESPN and bowl officials, then rule just declared to be ineligible football players can play in the bowl game and pay their penalty by sitting out the next season's opener against Akron.
Or there's that long-running college basketball joke attributed to the late UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian: "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, it's going to give Cleveland State two more years' probation."
There's no winking and joking if it's the Federal Bureau of Investigation doing the investigating.
The FBI is looking into college basketball's seamy side of recruiting, shoe company shenanigans and the criminal corruption charges against one assistant basketball coach each at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California. Plus, Louisville is likely to fire suspended Coach Rick Pitino and suspended Athletic Director Tom Jurich any day.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson responded bluntly when asked what it means to have the FBI involved instead of the NCAA.
"It means that it's serious," he said. "It's serious."
The FBI doesn't care about ratings, traditions and athletic departments' coffers unless the money is obtained illegally. G-Men care only about investigating federal crime and bringing perpetrators to justice.
No doubt lots of coaches are losing lots of sleep.
Anderson and his University of Arkansas, Fayetteville assistants are not among them, he said Tuesday.
"The thing I am proud of is that I have surrounded myself with people who see the vision I have when you talk about how we do it at Arkansas is the right way," Anderson said. "We may not get some kids because of that, but I can go to sleep at night."
Nolan Richardson, Anderson's mentor and boss at Arkansas for 17 years, was publicly critical of the quasi-agents and parasites hanging around the AAU scene's fringes.
Anderson more quietly, but apparently ever assiduously, has maintained the same course while dealing with clean hands.
Of course with the shoe companies with whom they all are bound by contracts, there likely isn't a university anywhere that can rest assured its hands are entirely clean.
Shoe companies wield an inordinate influence over college athletics.
And when one -- like Adidas, the company whose association with Pitino riveted FBI focus on Louisville -- appears implicated, every college athletic director should fret about whether their particular apparel company finds the FBI at its door, combing through files and cellphones and possible connections to rogue boosters fancying they are recruiters, too.
Sports on 10/07/2017
Print Headline: FBI a much scarier acronym than NCAA