College basketball fans are in for a treat Sunday, when the Missouri Tigers take on the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition game at the Sprint Center.
The proceeds from ticket sales and the livestream video broadcast will go to help victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
The game is particularly welcome now. It comes just a few weeks after scandal rocked the college basketball world. This won’t erase the stain of accusations that assistant coaches and agents colluded to steer players to certain schools, but it pushes the story into the background, if only for a few hours.
Congratulations to both teams for agreeing to the game. A special tip of the cap to KU basketball coach Bill Self, who said his father wanted to stage similar contests after Hurricane Katrina but was thwarted by the NCAA.
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In fact, the game is such a good idea that it should become an annual event. Call it the Shirts and Skins for Charity Classic.
Like lots of fans in this area, we’d like to see KU and MU play basketball regularly, in the regular season, when it counts. But we also understand that both schools have their own priorities and needs.
An annual exhibition game in Kansas City, for charity, seems like a great substitute.
The NCAA has to issue a waiver of its rules for such a game to take place. Permission should be automatic. Not even the NCAA is stupid enough to prohibit a game for charity — not when it routinely rakes in millions in cash for itself, earned from the sweat of players who aren’t paid for their services.
Fun fact: The NCAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. That makes the NCAA men’s basketball tournament itself a charity event.
In this case, though, some of the money goes to people like NCAA president Mark Emmert. In fiscal year 2015, Emmert earned nearly $1.9 million in salary and benefits for his work.
The NCAA would have no choice but to allow an annual charity exhibition. And, in fact, many schools have followed the lead of KU and MU and have set up charity games of their own in recent days.
There may be concerns about adding another contest to the athletes’ schedules. We’re sympathetic to that problem — perhaps reducing the regular season schedule or shortening pre-season practices could address it.
It’s possible Kansas and Missouri would resist scheduling an annual game, even for charity. If that’s the case, other local schools should step forward and offer to play in Kansas City each year.
Mizzou and KU have agreed to set aside their differences to raise money for people who need it. It’s a great idea and should not be a one-time affair.