The thrill of winning the Super Bowl Championship is beginning to wind down. NCAA basketball and March Madness will soon be front and center and Major League Baseball’s spring training is already in progress.


A dark cloud lingers over both college basketball and major league baseball. Some of the elite college basketball programs in the country are looking at NCAA sanctions from the Infractions Committee for players who have been paid by shoe companies to attend select college basketball programs.


Kansas is having another great season, but there is always an elephant in the room when anyone speaks about the KU program. If those sanctions are enacted, KU and other high-power college teams could be negatively impacted for several years.


These allegations are not new to the college basketball scene. For too many years the universities and NCAA have buried their heads in the sand rather than face the truth about money handed out to players behind-the-scenes. It really is amazing that many people actually appear shocked.


In reality, Division I basketball programs would be hard-pressed to recruit top-notch players without these external money sources. It is a myth that college basketball players choose a school because they want to study and get a degree while playing basketball.


Baseball is a whole different story and has been going on since the first pitch was thrown more than 150 years ago. Stealing signs has been common at every level of baseball. However, the present controversy – with all the people connected to the Houston Astros level of stealing signs – has placed a new light on the problem.


Technology has improved our society for the most part. But it can be dangerous in the hands of individuals with very little integrity. It allows people with little lack of character to cheat with precision. For the last five years, one or more of the Astros’ great hitters have looked as if they knew a fastball was coming in key moments of big games.


Jose Altuve has sat on some fastballs in key situations and has hit home runs that would make Babe Ruth look happy on his best day. Maybe Altuve and his fellow Astros players did not have inside information every time they came to bat, but it’s now hard to accept that everything the Astros accomplished during the last five years has been legitimate.


My 6-year-old grandson loves everything about Altuve. I wonder what he thinks about his hero now. If he ever asks me about the Astros cheating techniques, I hope I can explain to him that it is much more important to win the right way and not give in to cheating.


Baseball is having a difficult time determining the correct discipline to be handed out to those involved in the scandal. The general manager, president of the organization, managers and coaches should all be fired from the game and never be allowed to return.


How can the ballplayers get away with carrying out the cheating and not receiving any repercussions?


They are not innocent bystanders who were forced to cheat. They dug in and went looking for the fastball that was coming down the middle.


Technology is not to blame – a lack of integrity is the problem. It is the problem facing college major league baseball and college basketball. Hopefully both unethical situations will become learning tools for young athletes and can be used to guide them to positive decision-making.


• The quote of the week comes from Thomas Macaulay, English writer and statesman: “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”


– 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.