FBI Probe into CBB Recruiting Implicates Top Schools

0 Shares

In the last days of February, Yahoo! Sports published an explosive article detailing illegal cash payments made by former NBA agent Andy Miller, Christian Dawkins, and Miller’s agency, ASM Sports to college basketball recruits and coaches around the country. The FBI corruption probe of college basketball revealed an underground operation involving at least 20 Division I basketball programs and 25 players. Dawkins and Miller facilitated payments from elite college basketball programs to star recruits and current players. One of the first casualties of the FBI investigation was Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. Pitino was fired in September by the Louisville Athletic Association as part of this corruption and bribery scheme. These latest violations could put a death nail in big-time college sports once and for all.

Arizona Implicated 

ESPN published its own article stemming from the FBI findings three days later. The story directly implicated Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach Sean Miller. ESPN reported the FBI college basketball probe includes proof that Miller arranged a deal with ASM Sports’ agent Christian Dawkins to ensure that top recruit Deandre Ayton, signed with the Wildcats. Ayton allegedly received $100,000 for committing to the school.

Miller naturally denied the accusations and Sports Illustrated has refuted the timeline detailed in the ESPN report. He said, “I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program,” said Miller. “[Our program] has never paid a recruit or prospect or their family or representative to come to Arizona. I’ve never arranged, directed payment or any [other] improper benefits to a recruit, their family or representative, and I never will.” He went further saying that he has never spoken to Christian Dawkins.

Mo’ Money, More Problems

The schools named in the ASM documents obtained during FBI probe of college basketball are a who’s who of the sport. 

TeamHead Coach
ClemsonBrad Brownell
CreightonGreg McDermott
DukeMike Krzyzewski
Iowa StateSteve Prohm
KansasBill Self
KentuckyJohn Calipari
LouisvilleRick Pitino (fired)
LSUWill Wade
MarylandMark Turgeon
Michigan StateTom Izzo
North Carolina StateKevin Keatts
North CarolinaRoy Williams
Notre DameMike Brey
Seton HallKevin Willard
USCAndy Enfield
UtahLarry Krystkowiak
VillanovaJay Wright
VirginiaTony Bennett
WashingtonMike Hopkins
Wichita StateGregg Marshall
TexasShaka Smart
XavierChris Mack

Current NCAA college basketball players who allegedly received illegal cash payments were:

PlayerSchoolAmount
Brian BowenSouth Carolina (transfer from Louisville)$7,000
Bennie BoatwrightUSC$2,000
Chimezie MetuUSC$2,000
Eric DavisTexas$1,500
Miles Bridges (mother)Michigan StateAmount not specified
Wendall Carter (mother)DukeAmount not specified
Collin Sexton (mother)AlabamaAmount not specified
Kevin KnoxKentuckyAmount not specified

Former players who allegedly received money from ASM Sports include Dennis Smith Jr., North Carolina State ($73,500), Jarell Martin, USC ($52,472.72), Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall ($37,657), Bam Adebayo, Kentucky ($36,500), number one overall draft pick Markelle Fultz, Washington ($10,000), and Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, Utah ($9,500).

NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement about the FBI findings. It said, “These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports.

collegebasketballfbiprobe
Courtesy of Bleacher Report.

The Remedies

The FBI’s investigation into the NCAA comes down to a simple problem. Whether true or not, college athletic departments believe they must bribe the nation’s top recruits to attend their schools.

Cases in point:

  • Panthers QB Cam Newton was involved in a pay-to-play scandal as an Auburn Tiger in 2011. Newton’s father and an associate Kenny Rogers, a Mississippi State Bulldogs alum, asked for $120,00 to $180,000 for Newton to commit to MSU. The NCAA did not sanction Newton or Auburn.
  • NBA All-Star Chris Webber pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in 2003 for lying to a grand jury about payments he received from the University of Michigan booster Ed Martin. Webber received approximately $40,000 over his two years as a Wolverine.

Eliminate

It’s time to eliminate for-profit sports programs from college campuses. The NCAA is unable to prevent corruption at its major programs. ‘Division I’ basketball and football is an unequal system where administrators and coaches earn millions. Meanwhile, players only receive a non-guaranteed opportunity for a degree.

The NBA should create a more robust developmental system, modeled after the MLB’s minor leagues. Players could earn a salary in the minors before reaching the NBA. Another option is to allow private entrepreneurs to create a developmental league specifically for young players. Rapper and actor Ice Cube created the Big3 league in 2017. Plus, we consider him a ‘clown,’ but LaVar Ball plans to start the Junior Basketball League (JBL) for nationally ranked players who have graduated from high school but don’t want to go to college.

Get Creative

If the NCAA continues to exist, they need to adapt. For years, FTS has been in favor of deferred payment plans for student-athletes. Part of the Charles O’Bannon case against the NCAA included a judge’s opinion that colleges set aside up to $5,000 annually for each athlete. That money would then be paid out after the athlete leaves school.

Unfortunately, a three-judge panel struck down the opinion. The panel felt deferred payments would too radically change the definition of amateurism in college sports. Oh please, NCAA student-athletes stopped being amateurs when coaches received big money contracts from shoe companies for signing exclusive sneaker and apparel deals. Deferred payments should be implemented.

Common Sense

Here’s a novel approach. How about allowing collegiate student-athletes to get jobs to supplement their income? College football and basketball do have off-seasons. Or, with the abundance of freelance and remote job opportunities, allow students to get jobs (approved by the athletic department). Learning how to balance going to school while earning money teaches valuable life lessons.