Opinion on the NCAA FBI Investigation
By Nick Miller '20
In September of 2017, the whole world of basketball was shaken up. The FBI announced it had arrested ten individuals, including assistant coaches, agents and executives in big name shoe companies, for various corruption and fraud charges such as bribery and wire fraud. The schools involved included Arizona, Miami, Louisville, Auburn and Oklahoma State. Fast forward to November 2018 and the official trial has finally been concluded after starting in mid-October. The basketball community was taken by surprise by many of the schools and names involved.
In the original accusations, the two highest recruits involved were Brian Bowen, who committed to Louisville but is now deemed ineligible by the NCAA, and Nassir Little, who is currently enrolled at UNC (North Carolina). During the trial, Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen, Sr., was used as a witness. He accused Arizona and Louisville of offering to pay his son, but phone calls between Tony Stubblefield, an Oregon assistant, and Christian Dawkins, an agent who works for ASM Sports, showed that Stubblefield had been in contact with Dawkins over twenty times about Bowen. Merl Code, an Adidas consultant, stated that Oregon was going to offer “astronomical” amounts of money to get Bowen to Oregon and not an Adidas school like Louisville. Bowen, Sr. claimed that Oregon never paid him nor his son any money.
Nassir Little was presumed to be in a bidding war between Miami and Arizona. Nassir was caught up in this because the director of his AAU team, 1Family, is on the Adidas AAU circuit. The director was Brad Augustine, one of the original names in the allegations.
The difference in Nassir’s case was that he and his family had no involvement and Adidas was going to pocket the money and give Augustine a share. Text messages from Dawkins to Augustine showed that Nassir and his family had no knowledge of the money that was being paid from Arizona, so Nassir got off scot-free.
In addition to clearing up the past accusations, some shocking new revelations came out of this trial too. Silvio de Sousa, a 5-star center currently enrolled at Kansas, is believed to have been in the middle of a bidding war between Kansas and Maryland. De Sousa’s guardian claimed that Under Armour had sent him payments for Silvio to go to Maryland, but Silvio wanted to go to Kansas and needed payments from Kansas to go there. After that, he received around $20,000 from Jim Gatto, an Adidas executive, to attend Kansas. Kansas was also accused of paying an unknown recruit’s mother. The recruit is assumed to be Billy Preston, a five-star player who was suspended after he was accused of receiving a car that he did not buy and crashing it. Preston was allegedly paid $90,000 to play at Kansas, where he later committed.
The most surprising out of all the revelations was the involvement of Zion Williamson, who currently plays at Duke. Williamson is arguably the most hyped recruit of all time, garnering around 1.8 million followers on Instagram. According to wire-tapped phone calls between Merl Code and Kurtis Townshend (an assistant at Kansas who was Zion’s lead recruiter), Zion’s stepfather asked Code for a job, housing for his family, and cash. Townshend claimed that he would find a way to get Zion to Kansas for ten months. After this information was leaked, people raised the question: Did Duke give Zion’s stepfather all he asked for? People speculated that if Kansas offered him all of those amenities, would he have chosen Duke over Kansas just because Duke was his so-called “dream school”? In addition, it was proven that NC State paid Dennis Smith, Jr., a five-star point guard currently on the Mavericks, $40,000 to pledge a commitment to their school. Also, LSU was accused of paying former player Tim Quarterman $16,000. People questioned how LSU’s 2018 recruiting class, ranked #4 in the nation, was so good, given how bad their past classes have been.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered in this trial. Even though this trial has ended, the case still isn’t over. There may need to be a second trial to solve the mysteries behind these recruits. This is horrible for the NCAA. If certain people such as Bill Self (Kansas), Sean Miller (Arizona) , Will Wade (LSU), and NC State (current head coach Kevin Keatts and previously Mark Gottfried), get off with no punishment, it shows how corrupt the NCAA really is. In that case, Mark Emmert, the CEO of the NCAA, needs to be fired.