MOBILE, Ala. – The sounds of basketball. The squeak of shoes as they pass along the hardwood floor.
It’s those shoes that are part of a FBI investigation poised to reshape the landscape of college basketball.
“It just makes me sad that these things go on, and it just didn’t start yesterday. This thing has been going on ever since I started coaching,” said former college basketball coach Ronnie Arrow.
Arrow has over 40 years of coaching experience across college basketball, including time at South Alabama. He believes this investigation could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“Because if they go really deep, the ripples from it are going to go really far out. And it’s just going to keep going,” said Arrow.
The pressure to win has always been high in college athletics, but the amount money athletic departments bring in has taken those pressures to another level.
“You have coaches now making CEO money, just like large companies,” said Arrow. “I don’t care how good a coach you are, if you don’t have the players, and that’s where it all starts, you can be the best X and O’s coach but you won’t get it done on the court.”
And to get the best players, it helps to have the best gear. Even at a young age, certain brands are synonymous with their basketball shoes.
“If you ask these young kids out here, they don’t even know who Michael Jordan is. If you say Michael Jordan they’ll look at their shoes,” Arrow said.
But for Ronnie, nights like this are about the fundamentals of the game. It doesn’t matter what shoe you wear or the brand of your shorts. It’s about your love of the game.
“This out here, when we get started, you’ll see what it’s all about,” said Arrow. “Give them discipline too, don’t just roll the ball out, but give them discipline to allow them to do the things they want to do not only to play the game of basketball but to be able to put up with this crazy world that’s out there.”