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Corruption In Sports: Not Just For The Professionals02:24
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Virginia Military Institute cadets man cannons used to deliver a 21-gun salute in front of the barracks at VMI  (Steve Helber/AP Photo)
Virginia Military Institute cadets man cannons used to deliver a 21-gun salute in front of the barracks at VMI (Steve Helber/AP Photo)
This article is more than 5 years old.

Corrupt, self-serving treachery within the world of sports is not limited to the lords of FIFA.

Outside the glare that sometimes illuminates the machinations of corporate powers like FIFA and the NFL, Virginia Military Institute has recently distinguished itself as petty and greed-addled. As reported this week by ESPN, VMI was home, briefly, to two basketball-playing brothers, Jon and Ot Elmore. They chose VMI because their father had starred there, and his father wanted them to follow his lead. The older brother red-shirted for a year and received a scholarship, but neither Elmore played a game at VMI. Before they could do that, their grandfather, who had raised the young men, became ill. The brothers returned to their home in Charleston, West Virginia, where they cared for their grandfather until he died.

Subsequently, they asked Virginia Military Institute to release them from their commitment to the school so they would be eligible to attend college and play basketball somewhere else. According to Tim DiPiero, an attorney and family friend, VMI initially agreed to do that if compensated for the $50,000 scholarship they’d given the older brother.

Outside the glare that sometimes illuminates the machinations of corporate powers like FIFA and the NFL, Virginia Military Institute has recently distinguished itself as petty and greed-addled.

Bill Littlefield

Weeks later, according to DiPiero, VMI upped the figure, saying that it would take $110-thousand to “make them whole.”

Administrators at the school had the leverage. Without the releases the Elmore brothers were requesting, they’d lose two years of basketball eligibility, which would make them much less attractive recruits.

“The family was willing to come up with $50,000,” Tim DiPiero told ESPN staff writer Jeff Goodman. “However, they could not afford $110,000.”

The months-long standoff featuring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England’s star quarterback Tom Brady attracted more attention than it merited and reached a significant turning point – albeit not necessarily a conclusion – this week.

The standoff between VMI and the Elmore brothers endures, and more attention should be paid. But Jon and Ot Elmore are not headliners. According to Tim DiPiero, they are just two guys who’d been dreaming about playing college basketball together for a long time, but who didn’t hesitate to delay that dream when it came time to take care of their dying grandfather. Now a bureaucratic system built on requests, denials, and a university that insists on being “made whole” is punishing them for feeling that way.

This segment aired on September 5, 2015.

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Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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