Division I Basketball Scandals
The world of college basketball is enwrapped in scandal. This began in Sept. of 2017 as four college basketball coaches—Chuck Person of Auburn University, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University—were indicted by the FBI on fraud and corruption charges. These coaches were only a portion of the arrests made as James Gatto, director of global sports marketing at Adidas; Merl Code, a former Adidas executive and Christian Dawkins, an NBA agent formerly of ASM Sports, were also arrested.
Dawkins is the biggest catch for the FBI as he seems to be the head of directing money to different college athletes. He worked for Andy Miller, an NBA agent, and together, it appears as though they weaved this plot to help colleges get the star athletes they were looking for.
This revelation has made quite the wave throughout the basketball world. The first big action that occurred was the firing of Rick Pitino, a formerly beloved coach at Louisville. Pitino was fired when it was revealed a former big named recruit, Brian Bowen, had been paid a sum of at least $7,000 and had been offered up to $100,000 to play for Louisville. This was huge news at the time as Pitino, who had coached 16 years at Louisville and coached Lousiville to a national championship in 2013, lost his job. Louisville’s championship has since been vacated by the NCAA.
This past week opened up our eyes even further to the matter as reports surfaced of college basketball stars, about 25 in total, receiving payments from ASM Sports. These players include current NBA players Dennis Smith Jr., Markelle Fultz, Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Isaiah Whitehead. They also include current star college athletes. Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, San Diego State’s Malik Pope, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Duke’s Wendell Carter were all listed as possibly receiving benefits from this group. Programs have already begun suspending athletes for being on this list.
Not only was this information revealed this week, but emails from ASM Sports to recruits were also recovered in the FBI investigation. Emails between Dawkins and Miller show the two discussing deals with a Michigan State and Indiana coach about deals to get Brian Bowen to play for their schools. While the information immediately places Indiana and Michigan State into the group being investigated, it also brought forward a wiretapped conversation between Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller and Dawkins.
Miller, when previously questioned about the recruiting allegations, due to his assistant coach being arrested, said, “As the head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, I recognize my responsibility is not only to establish a culture of success on the basketball court and in the classroom, but as important, to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance. To the best of my ability, I have worked to demonstrate this over the past eight years and will continue to do so as we move forward.”
In the phone conversation, Miller was discussing the payment of $100,000 to top Arizona player DeAndre Ayton. For this payment, Miller was securing the commitment of Ayton. This firmly placed Miller into the forefront of the scandal. All of the action from this week spurned a statement from NCAA president Mark Emmert.
Emmert stated, “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.”
On top of this, Emmert also mentioned the formation of a commission on college basketball, which will be investigating the allegations laid out. Condoleezza Rice will be the chair of this committee.
The big question is what will happen to the NCAA system. Wittenberg, for example, can recruit players, but can only offer scholarships for academics. As you move up divisions from Wittenberg’s Division three level, scholarships for athletics do become available. So, the big question is, should college athletes get paid for their college careers? Top basketball head coaches have obviously proved they believe the funneling of money to players is not a terrible thing if it means they succeed.
There can be two options for the NCAA to follow. They can either change policy to work with coaches to try and continue the success of one of the nation’s top sports networks or they can punish the coaches and programs changing college basketball’s entire landscape. Regardless of what the NCAA chooses to do, major players in the college basketball world are going to jail and there will be a historical ruling coming with it.