ATLANTA - USA Today reported this morning that adidas discontinued sales of a t-shirt inspired by injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware, with a message inspiring its wearers to "Ri5e to The Occasion" - clearly portraying Ware's uniform number.
Chase Behanan, Ware's best friend and teammate, was asked about the $25 shirts on Friday. He gave a seemingly ambivalent answer.
"I really don't have a feeling," Behanan said. "You have to look at it as, he's still a college athlete and with the rules of NCAA, special privileges ... it really doesn't matter. He hasn't complained about it."
Still, the fact that adidas attempted to profit off a gruesome injury was, well, gruesome, but it again raised a question that's become inherent to college sports: Should athletes be in a position to profit from participating in college sports? Because they're part of a system in which they're helping an institution make money.
Last week in Dallas, Florida coach Billy Donovan was asked about the topic. Here's the lengthy answer:
"I think there has to be something done, in my opinion. And I don't know what that is. I don't have a solution or an answer to that.
"I do think there are situations with kids that ‑‑ there's almost, I think, getting to a point now in college basketball where there's maybe little bit of a distaste because you have all these amateur rules. And I understand both sides. I understand the NCAA and the rules committee, I understand all that in terms of keeping integrity and amateurism status and all those things.
"And I also understand the players' side of it. When you're on the road like we are as coaches and you go into some of these situations and kids are not in a good situation financially at all or even to eat or their families don't understand the NCAA rules, somebody comes in and gives them something. There's a lot of things that people can look at from the outside and sit and point fingers and say is wrong.
But there's a lot of financial gains being made through this tournament, through the coaches, administrators and universities. And I'm not saying these guys should be on a full salary, but there should be something done for them to make their life a little bit easier when they're going through college."
The 1993 Michigan basketball team took thousands and thousands of dollars from a wayward booster - an illegal transaction in the eyes of the NCAA - and raised a question that Dan Lebowitz, the executive director for Northeastern University's Center for Sport in Society, said is a byproduct of evolution. Sixty years ago, the question of paying college athletes wouldn't have even been considered, given that major college sports wasn't the economic machine it is today.
"Great minds such as Taylor Branch asked that in Atlantic Monthly (See: "The Shame of College Sports," written by Branch in 2011), a place where you don’t see a sports story," Lebowitz said. "One of the greatest historians in the world asks about free trade.
"When you think about big-money sports, that’s a question that needs to stay on the table. On the contrary - if you look at rules of capitalism and free trade, it’s like a feudal or an indentured-slave system."
Academic institutions, clearly, are getting paid. So why can't athletes?
There's another argument to it, one that I've adhered to: College athletes on scholarship have access to certain top-level things: travel, clothing, training facilities, medical care and treatment, nutrition (ever see a Division I football training table?) and to a college education that is worth thousands and thousands of dollars.
But after watching the machine operate during the course of the NCAA Tournament, I'm inclined to change my mind. It might take a little more work - unless it involves a little more integrity.
That might involve a little more waiting on my part.