A few days ago I was rudely awakened with a press release from the University of Pittsburgh sitting in my inbox, “smoking.” I would like to bring “you’s guys” in on this insanity and get your take on this melodrama.The communiqué stated; “Junior guard Ashton Gibbs announced Saturday that he will withdraw from the 2011 NBA Draft and return to the University of Pittsburgh for his senior season. Since he did not sign with an agent, Gibbs retained the option to withdraw from the draft per NCAA rules. The early entry withdrawal deadline is on Sunday, May 8.”Does this sound a bit suspect to you? The NCAA has various dates listed in regards to the “signing” of “amateur” athletes. For example, the signing date for basketball players scheduled to compete in the 2011 “academic” year was from Nov. 10 to Nov. 17, 2010. For football it was from Feb. 2, to April 1, 2011. This “signing period” stuff seems more like an understated, unregulated, “covert draft” to me. In my opinion, the only difference from the “regular” draft is the only principal involved that is not getting paid is the “student-athlete.Pitt men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon had this to say; “I am extremely excited that Ashton will return to the court for us next year. We encouraged and supported Ashton in his pursuit of NBA Draft possibilities. Ashton and I had numerous discussions dating back to last year and during the process. Anytime you are an All-Big East First Team player, the professional field is something we encourage our players to look into. Ashton is a tremendous representative for the University of Pittsburgh. He embodies everything you want in a student-athlete and has always made decisions for the right reasons. This is just another example.” Dixon’s statement was 101 words. Only 12 words were about the true welfare of Gibbs including the name Ashton. Again I quote Coach Dixon. “We encouraged and supported Ashton in his pursuit of NBA Draft possibilities.Pitt and the local media did not support DeJuan Blair’s decision to declare to enter the NBA draft. By the way, Blair became a second round pick with the San Antonio Spurs in 2009. They also attempted to rain on the parade of Jon Baldwin, a 2011 first round pick with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, I caution you not to totally put the “albatross of corruption” around the neck of the Pitt. They are but a small part of a far bigger problem, the dastardly and corrupt NCAA. Add up the millions of dollars that the NCAA and its member institutions stand to lose when athletes decide to leave school early, roll the dice and choose to play professionally and take care of their families. Auburn QB Cam Newton was vilified, talked about, accused of possibly getting paid and dragged through the “media mud-pit.” As I alluded to in previous columns, his agent got paid but the NCAA and its media cronies were all up in arms about his father making a little “scratch.”They seem to have also turned some of these youngsters into zombie-like talking heads. Listen to this madness coming from the mouth of Gibbs.“In discussing my options the last couple of weeks with my family and Coach Dixon, I feel that it is in my best interest to return to Pitt for my senior season,” Gibbs said.“The NBA can wait a year. I look forward to continuing the success that we’ve established here at Pitt and finish my collegiate career with all of my teammates and fellow senior Nasir Robinson. It will also be extra special to earn my degree.”Hey Ashton, may I ask you a single question? Have you been cutting class? The NBA cannot wait a year, if you get injured you will be waiting for a lifetime, as Fred Sanford used to say; “ya big dummy.” Do you think that if you get hurt Pitt will throw a million or two your way to help you out financially? Well if you think that Mr. Gibbs, Osama Bin Laden is not dead, he is leasing space from me and hiding in my attic.If Gibbs had flew the coop to the NBA, Pitt’s chances of having success in or out of the Big East in the 2011-2012 season would have probably flown the coop with him. I’m getting dizzy. Mother may I, may I exit this merry-go-round?(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: [email protected] or 412-583-6741.) Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Round and round and round we go. Where the world’s headed nobody knows. Ya got me going in circles, oh, oh, oh round and round we go. If you have not noticed by now, the theme for this “piece of work” is going round and round like a merry-go-round. The introduction was provided by various composers and artists’ from different eras who had one thing in common, going around in circles. I have written at least fifty columns with a theme suggesting that college athletes under the tutelage and “watchful eye” of the NCAA be paid for services rendered.
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