The 2017 baseball season is finally over. It was a painful year to watch and to come to the realization that it is an end has come for a positive baseball run in Kansas City.

It was so good for this city to bond with a bunch of young and talented players and watch them grow into world champions. The Royals organization brought a core nucleus of players along in the system and believed in their abilities. It was a great opportunity to bring an entire city of Royals fans back to life.

Instead of feeling down we need to be forever grateful that we have the memories of 2014 and 2015 as part of our city’s history. Everyone may be apprehensive about the future but anything can happen and every year the game will be full of surprises.

This past week basketball coaches being investigated by the FBI seemed to come as a surprise to many. Money has taken over all levels of basketball. Schools like Louisville and Miami are probably just the tip of the iceberg when all the facts come out about the underhanded money that is passed around to recruits, coaches and agents by shoe companies.

More than 20 years ago I served on a Missouri State High School Activities Association committee that investigated a similar situation that involved athletes at a local high school. The result ended in discipline for the school and an involved party served prison time.

The world of AAU basketball is full of stories surrounding money and recruiting. It is amazing that the NCAA as the ruling group did not uncover the shady dealing, but instead it was the findings of an FBI investigation that let the cat out of the bag.

The NCAA seems to have a way of wearing blinders when it comes to a high revenue sport like men’s NCAA basketball. In the last 25 years high school basketball has suffered because college basketball programs have turned to elite AAU teams in recruiting rather than high school players. Division I NCAA programs have created this situation.

The country’s basketball power schools have a farm system of young basketball players financed by shoe companies. There is no doubt some of the top programs are clean, but I bet there are many Division I coaches who are uncomfortable with this at the forefront.

Rick Pitino, former head basketball coach for Louisville, is a poster boy for the lack of integrity in college basketball programs. He has won two national championships, has been head coach for two teams in the NBA and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. That is very impressive record.

The other face of Pitino is a guy who was involved in a personal sex scandal that ended with the woman going to jail. Louisville is in the middle of an appeal of NCAA sanctions handed out in June because of another sex scandal that involved the use of prostitutes to recruit players at Louisville. He was ultimately fired because his assistant promised payments to recruits of up to $150,000. The AD was also fired because he chose not to fire Pitino.

That is an example of a school that places more value on money than integrity! Division I coaches and AAU programs have created a monster that has the potential to eat them all up.

The surprise is the shocked reaction as if it was a new problem. I talked to two local Division II basketball coaches last season who had their star players transfer to another school because their AAU coach advised them to do so. High school coaches also complain that high school players have no loyalty to the high school – only to their AAU coaches.

This story is a common story across the country. Recruiting for top talent takes place in the offseason when shoe companies sponsor showcases all over the country for elite AAU teams. This is the way Division I and II college coaches recruit players.

It is a safe bet that there are sport agents in every gym and a lot of deals will be cut to sway young players to play at colleges partnered with certain shoe companies. The system is beyond questionable and yet the NCAA chose to look the other way?

• Last weekend’s NCAA Division II football game between Northwest Missouri State and Central Missouri State at Arrowhead Stadium was a classic. Local Division II football is the best in the country. These players will most likely not make it into the pros but they still play the game with a high level of skill.

• The addition of Kareem Hunt to the Chiefs might have been one of the greatest draft picks in the franchise history. Thank goodness Andy Reid spends his spare time on Thursday nights watching teams like Toledo. This guy is a real find.

• My quote of the week comes from the greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.