A moment of silence, please, for the great American tragedy that unfolded in a New York courtroom this past week.
Capitulating to his fate amid far less hoopla than the headlines that surrounded his arrest, alongside the arrests of three other Division I assistant coaches, in the FBI's NCAA basketball corruption probe more than 15 months ago, former USC assistant Tony Bland accepted a plea for his part in the sordid affair.
Bland admitted to taking a $4,100 cash payment in July 2017 in order to steer particular USC players to specific managers and financial advisors. Afterward his lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told reporters, "It's a tragic, tragic day."
Still, if there is indeed an ongoing miscarriage of justice in the saga that continues to hover over college basketball in general, and the Pac-12 Conference in particular, it is the free pass the programs involved have been given by the NCAA.
Last summer, in the wake of the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission report that set out to recommend bureaucratic changes after the original arrests that nabbed Bland and former Arizona assistant Book Richardson, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the NCAA now would use information gathered from outside investigative bodies in its own investigative procedures.
Here it is, served on a silver platter. A one-time assistant at USC admitting guilt to conspiracy to commit bribery. And still just the sound of crickets from the NCAA.
Remember, this is the institution that kept Colorado's Evan Battey on the sideline last season, declaring him academically ineligible. His transgression? It wasn't poor grades, or that Battey was unqualified. His mother forced him to repeat the ninth grade when the trials of life, most notably his parents' separation, momentarily slid Battey's life off the rails. That he soon got his life, and grades, in order didn't matter to the NCAA.
This also was an institution that forced CU's D'Shawn Schwartz to sit through a one-game suspension for the season opener in November for having the gall to play one summer league game before the official start date for participation in such leagues. I'm sure Buffs fans are delighted the NCAA is diligently policing such crimes to society.
USC's voluntary benching of D'Anthony Melton last season aside, coach Tad Boyle's CU program has suffered the wrath of the NCAA far more than their Pac-12 rivals at USC and Arizona since the FBI investigation first came to light. And Melton's "punishment" didn't prevent him from being a second-round pick in last summer's NBA draft.
While the NCAA was given the green light from the FBI to begin its own investigations into the corruption scandal this past fall, several reports have indicated the organization wants to wait until after the April trials of Richardson and the other coaches before meting out any punishment. Prudence, of course, is a commendable route, and if additional transgressions are unearthed, all the better.
Yet April is conveniently after the basketball season, making the question of whether Emmert is more concerned about further bad headlines than dealing with the issues at hand a valid one. Nothing is preventing the NCAA from using Bland's plea deal to, for example, ban the Trojans from the 2019 postseason and then add more punishment later if further infractions are revealed except perhaps their own PR spin.
Unless something unexpectedly significant occurs in the next two months, two entire college basketball seasons will have passed since the arrests of Bland, Richardson, former Auburn assistant Chuck Person, and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans without even a slap on the wrist for any of the programs involved.
That's much closer to an actual tragedy than Bland's plea deal.