A Yahoo Sports report out Friday offers some of the most specific detail yet into the FBI’s college basketball corruption probe, which has unfolded quietly for months.
This report names names.
Reporters Pete Thamel and Pat Forde “viewed hundreds of pages of documents” they say detail payments from people at the center of the scandal. Those parties are former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former business associate Christian Dawkins, and Miller’s agency, ASM Sports. (Miller hasn’t been arrested or charged in the case, but the NBA’s players union took away his agent certification in December, removing him from that business.)
Many of the alleged payments went to players now gone from college.
Many of them took the form of loans, to be recouped by agents once a player became a professional:
- Up to $73,500 to former NC State guard and current Dallas Maverick Dennis Smith, along with “notes about ‘options to recoup the money’” when the agency didn’t land Smith. (It did not. Smith went with another agency.)
- Up to $36,500 in loans to former Kentucky and current Heat center Bam Adebayo. (Adebayo didn’t sign with the agency, and the documents call this a “bad loan”.)
- $26,136 to Isaiah Whitehead, a former Seton Hall guard and current Brooklyn Net. Whitehead also got nearly $40,000 in loans, per the documents. Whitehead signed with and then left the agency.
- At least $16,000 to former LSU guard and current Clippers G-Leaguer Tim Quarterman, who didn’t sign with ASM.
- $14,303 to former Maryland center and current G-Leaguer Diamond Stone, who signed with another agency out of college.
- $10,000 to former Washington guard and 76ers No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz, who also didn’t sign with ASM.
There are more players listed, including some who have made big names for themselves in the NBA. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who went to Villanova, Mavericks center Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), and Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State) are among them.
The report and underlying documents included in it don’t make the timetable of all the loans clear. The FBI’s case revolves in large part around agents’ efforts, with the help of other powerful people in the sport, to steer prospects to sign with them upon turning pro.
But a lot of current college players come up, too.
The report says ASM paid at least $2,000 apiece to two USC players, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, and their associates.
The highest-profile current player mentioned in the reporter is Michigan State sophomore forward Miles Bridges, a National Player of the Year candidate. The documents cite a $400 advance to Bridges’ mother and a $70 meal for his parents, both in May 2016.
Those payments are disclosed in agency expense reports by Dawkins, Miller’s associate. The documents also list dinners for Dawkins with MSU coach Tom Izzo and “Villanova coaches,” among others. Dawkins is now facing his own bribery and fraud charges.
Current and recent players from Alabama, Duke, North Carolina, Creighton, South Carolina, Utah, Xavier, Clemson, and Kansas, Texas, Notre Dame, Virginia, Iowa State, and Vanderbilt are also mentioned in various capacities. They range from getting ASM’s money to having meetings with Dawkins.
What’s going to happen to the programs named here?
Still unclear, though nothing good.
The NCAA’s enforcement operation can do whatever it wants to schools. But it probably wouldn’t sanction a program unless it had proof the school knew about or was involved in payments to players or recruits.
Thamel reported earlier in February that the scandal would reach a lot of schools, though, and that “NCAA officials are staring at the prospect of a tournament with a winner that will likely be vacating its title.” (Louisville just vacated 2013’s in a separate matter.)
Most of the schools mentioned in the report didn’t respond to Yahoo’s comment requests. Xavier coach Chris Mack denied any connections between his staff and Miller’s agency. Former Musketeer Edmond Sumner and/or his dad are alleged to have gotten at least $7,000 in advance payments while Sumner was at Xavier.
Are these players going to get in any trouble?
It’s an NCAA violation for players to accept money from agents. Any player found to have taken money would be in danger of losing his NCAA eligibility.
The NCAA has declared current players at a couple of programs ineligible. But its jurisdiction over them ends whenever those kids decide to stop playing college hoops, and they’d all have the option of leaving college whenever, anyway. While schools might someday face consequences for playing these players, it’s not clear that the NCAA would suddenly declare any of them ineligible right now.
Payments to players are called “impermissible benefits” by the NCAA. Not all impermissible benefits are created equal. Those with a value under $100 aren’t a big deal, as players can donate that money and retain NCAA eligibility. The dollar figures mentioned in the ASM documents are generally far above that amount.
NCAA president Mark Emmert’s statement on the Yahoo report takes an outraged tone:
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. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”
What else do we know about the case?
The FBI’s investigation is ongoing, but at least four former assistants at big programs are already facing charges connected to it: Chuck Person (Auburn), Book Richardson (Arizona), Tony Bland (USC), and Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State).
All were fired over the span of a few months following the FBI’s announcement of indictments in September. The FBI accuses those coaches of fraud and taking bribes to steer players to agents or businesses later on.
Here’s the entire federal case, visualized broadly:
This report isn’t at odds with what we already knew, but it brings more names to light.