By Matt Norlander
We have never seen a story like this in college basketball, right? A player arrested for being a pimp? Not essentially being a pimp: purely and definitively being a pimp. Carrying the cane of female distribution and disrespect while under scholarship. Doing it while the cloud of controversy over his senior year followed him to the point where his misdeeds and creepy behavior encroached into the public domain.
He has not been charged yet, but it's not looking good.
Just to reset, for the sake of clarity and emphasis, Overton was busted because his girlfriend got sniffed out by local authorities, who suspected foul play. This was learned, willing, repeated behavior from Overton and his female business partner he had posing as his girlfriend, reportedly.
Overton is due in court Friday for what should be the first of many appearances. If he's found guilty, he faces up to five years in the clink and a fine of $10,000.
If college basketball wasn't so damn irrelevant between May and September, this might actually have a ripple effect or cause a conversation that stretches beyond Seattle. Maybe it will. Probably not, though. Overton didn't matter much to his team, let alone to his conference or college basketball as a whole. Outlier or not, this is almost as bad as college athletics can get away from the arena. It's halting.
The saddest part about Overton's case is that, ultimately, I can't say I'm tossed-to-the-floor shocked about this. That's speaks to Overton's character and history, not my cynicism, which I try to keep in check as often as possible. Had Washington State law not state a 16-year-old was considered a legal, consenting adult, it's possible Overton could've been charged and facing trial over statutory rape and furnishing alcohol to minors. (Sexual charges were never pressed.)
It was only after Overton's case went public that Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar suspended the senior for the Pac-10 tournament. It was discipline that stemmed from off-the-court actions earlier in the season, clearly. Many speculated in quiet quarters that Overton was going to be suspended earlier in the season. Plenty held the belief he didn't deserve to be on the team anymore. But Romar was patient -- some will call it spineless; not sure if that's fair, as you never know how much a coach knows, or wants to know, or allows himself to know -- and let Overton come back and play in the NCAA tournament, where he didn't do Washington much good in its third-round game against North Carolina.
Here's what Romar said in a statement that I'm fairly surprised wasn't 10 or 15 words shorter.
"I have been informed of the arrest of Venoy Overton and I am extremely disappointed. My staff and I spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy attempting to mentor Venoy prior to his recent graduation, so this news is especially troubling."
I'd go with alarming, if we're free to pick adjectives here. Washington and Romar will escape most criticism because this happened after the season (but was it happening during, that is the question, and will we learn those details should a trial come to pass?) with a player who will be seen as a rogue missile. Overton will likely get his comeuppance in the coming days, weeks and months. Romar and Washington will distance themselves immediately and dodge a lot of criticism over keeping a player with character flaws that go beyond the typical slews of issues so many college basketball players carry with them today.