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Know why they don’t play basketball in Heaven? No referees.

That’s an old joke coaches like to tell — one Auburn fans, still reeling from the Tigers’ controversial, last-second NCAA semifinal loss to Virginia, will appreciate.

There might, however, be another explanation for the absence of a Celestial Basketball League: not enough coaches.

In the last year, scandal has enveloped a number of big-name bench jockeys. Several, including Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Will Wade, skipper of this year’s SEC champion, LSU, have been suspended or fired.

The scandal also involves shoe companies, accused of paying high school stars to sign with sponsored programs. In March, three Adidas executives were sentenced to prison for their role in the pay-to-play scheme.

Now Stormy Daniels’ former attorney, Michael Avenatti, has accused Nike of similar shenanigans — including paying off Zion Williamson’s family for the presumptive top pick in the upcoming NBA draft to attend Duke.

Sure, we should consider the source. Avenatti’s previous allegations against Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh notoriously crashed and burned. And yet, quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if these charges are true.

In fact, after 13 years of tip-toeing around the edges of the college basketball recruiting cesspool, trying not to get you-know-what on my Nikes, none of this surprises me.

As a junior college coach from 1987 to 2000, I had many players recruited by Division I programs. That entailed numerous conversations with coaches, some of whose names you might recognize, in which they made suggestions that were, shall we say, not exactly ethical.

For the record, I always declined.

One of my favorite stories, though, doesn’t involve me directly. I had a player whose brother (we’ll call him “Bryan”) happened to be a top 100 recruit. Instead of signing with one of the blue-blood programs pursuing him, however, Bryan elected to attend a smaller, “mid-major” school.

One weekend, while Bryan was visiting his brother, I asked him about his decision. Had that program just done the best job recruiting him?

“No,” he responded, “I wanted to start right away instead of sitting on the bench for two years. The school that did the best job of recruiting me was ...” and he named a major ACC program.

“Really?” I asked. “What did they do?”

“Well,” said Bryan, “they flew me in on a private plane, picked me up in a limo and took me to the nicest hotel in town. They dropped me off, told me to go up to my room and get cleaned up and they’d pick me up for dinner in an hour.

“So I went upstairs, got undressed and took a shower. When I came out and started putting my clothes back on, I heard this crinkling sound. I checked my pants pockets, and they were both full of $100 bills.”

“Dang, Bryan, what did you do?” I asked.

He said, “I took another shower.”

Rob Jenkins is a local writer and college professor. He is the author of five books, including “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility” and “The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders” (with Karl Haden), both available at Liberty Books in downtown Lawrenceville. The views expressed here are his own. Email Rob at .

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