Thursday, February 15, 2018

FBI probe of college basketball back in the news

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim, second from right, and FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr., right, hold a press conference to announce the arrest of four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State on federal corruption charges, Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim, second from right, and FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr., right, hold a press conference to announce the arrest of four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State on federal corruption charges, Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


An unnamed source who has been briefed on the details of an FBI probe into corruption in college basketball told Yahoo Sports that far more than four assistant coaches arrested in September have cause for concern.

“When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated,” Yahoo's source said.

Kansas was one of those 16 schools, projected as a No. 2 seed in the West Region and No. 6 overall. But when reached via telephone Thursday night, KU coach Bill Self, who had labeled the initial arrests as part of “a dark week” for the sport, told the Journal-World that his view had not changed on what all of this meant for college basketball.

“I just read the article,” Self told the Journal-World late Thursday. “And I know that there were some generalities and some unnamed sources and that is certainly a concern for all coaches. It's a concern for anybody that cares about our sport and who's associated with our sport. And that's nothing new. I said that when this all first surfaced back in September, that I was concerned about our sport. I do know I'm more concerned for the sport than I am for the University of Kansas.

“I don't know any more than I have read. And I don't think other coaches know more than what they've read. Based on that, it's hard to have definitive comments on exactly where this is because nobody knows.”

During the first wave of arrests back in September, the FBI made it clear that the investigation remained ongoing.

“Anybody involved with our sport knew that this was not something that was going to be over when the initial reports came out in late September,” Self said. “At some point this was going to resurface and be talked about.”

Just how long that conversation will linger this time and what it ultimately will lead to remains up in the air. But the recent Yahoo report paints a gloomy picture.

According to the story written by Pete Thamel, “multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that the material obtained threatens the fundamental structure and integrity of the sport, as there’s potentially as many as 50 college basketball programs that could end up compromised in some way.”

Thamel's report also suggests that “multiple sources who’ve been briefed on the case and are familiar with the material obtained by feds told Yahoo Sports that the impact on the sport will be substantial and relentless.”

One important distinction between the initial fallout in September and this latest information is the difference in what's at stake.

Last fall, the FBI levied criminal charges against 10 people associated with college basketball, including assistant coaches, shoe company executives and agents. This time, after what the Yahoo Sports source said included 330 days, 4,000 intercepted calls and thousands of documents and bank records, it's NCAA violations that are being called into question.

Asked if he was concerned that the status of former KU freshman Billy Preston, a former McDonald's All-American who left Kansas without playing a single game to pursue professional opportunities overseas, could in some way be a part of all this, Self was adamant it did not.

“Billy's situation was strictly a reinstatement case,” he said. “We brought it to the NCAA's attention. We were hoping to get an answer in a time frame that would allow him to play this year. We did not get that and the family reached the point where they felt they needed to move on. We respected that decision, even though we were disappointed, but when Billy left to go play overseas the NCAA closed the book on his reinstatement case.”

In a separate story, published Wednesday,'s Mark Schlabach wrote that the potential for further action by both the FBI and the NCAA came from, “information included in wiretap conversations from the defendants and financial records, e-mails and cell phone records seized from NBA agent Andy Miller.”

Schlabach also quoted a source as saying, “It's not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top. It's the teams that are already there.”

Self, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Kentucky's John Calipari, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams are the six active NCAA men's basketball coaches in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Four of the six programs appeared in the NCAA Selection Committee's sneak peek at the top 16 seeds in this year's NCAA Tournament bracket last weekend.


Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

It's certainly a bit unnerving to not know how this is all going to shake out. I'm sure every fan base thinks their team is clean and almost everyone else is dirty. The biggest program that seems a sure thing to be in big trouble is Arizona. Regardless, I sure would love to see Calipari/Kentucky have to vacate wins (KU becomes all-time leader for wins) and Coach K/Duke go down purely because he always plays the "holier than thou" card and lies about things that clearly contradict his "persona".

Ben Kane 3 years, 11 months ago

really, that's how you'd like to overtake kentucky? that's a cowards move.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

It's not how I'd "like" to take them over, it's just a reality of what would happen if they got nailed by the FBI/NCAA. I'd "like" to see Calipari get nailed for a 3rd time/3rd school and have to vacate wins. I was simply pointing out that IF they had to vacate a season, we'd take over the lead.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

Kentucky, especially under Adolph Rupp, has gotten away with so much blatant disregard for the NCAA, why would anyone care if that was how we pass Kentucky for all-time wins.

It certainly is not a "cowards move", it would be justice.

Calling someone a COWARD on the Internet is the definition of a cowards move.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 11 months ago

i would say yahoo is definitely not a credible news source. with the billy situation i could see how we would be under investigation but he didn't play a game. bill is on top of his game as a coach.

Phil Leister 3 years, 11 months ago

There are a lot of layers to this. I just hope everything comes to the forefront sooner rather than later. I trust Bill but this is worrying nonetheless.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 11 months ago

So let me get this straight. The NCAA is going to put strict penalties on half the top schools and coaches in the country and ban them from tournament play? And leave us with a March Madness where we get Wichita State and Creighton in Final 4? Good luck with that. Maybe I'm naïve, but if this is truly as big as some are hinting, sounds like more of a reboot to me than what some are suggesting. Too much money involved.

Titus Canby 3 years, 11 months ago

So an anonymous source makes non-specific allegations about un-named perpetrators. "Hey, I think someone did something wrong, but I'm not going to tell you who it was or what they did." Is there any news here?

On a similar note, I still don't understand what's illegal about shoe companies paying players or coaches. It might be against NCAA rules, but can anyone tell me what law is being broken?

Edward Daub 3 years, 11 months ago

It doesn't take a "triple decker" brain to figure out this FBI Probe is much larger than 4 assistant coaches.

However, I am still confused why the FBI is essentially investigating the NCAA! And why are Criminal Charges justified? Tax Fraud or Evasion? Money Laundering?

It is also extremely Ironic that Adidas "Sports Licensing Division" is also located in the Motor City of Indianapolis, a stones throw from NCAA Headquarters!

Barry Weiss 3 years, 11 months ago

Certainly hope KU is not swept up in this, in any way. This has been a crappy year by KU standards anyway.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

Until a report comes out specifically naming Kansas as part of the corruption probe, there is nothing for us to worry about.

At the same time, I have a hard time trusting the FBI to clean up corruption in college hoops considering that they themselves are corrupt. After all, this is the same FBI that is in cahoots with the Clinton crime family to let Hill-Rod skate for all her shady dealings and has been conspiring to oust President Trump from office.

Jay Hawkinson 3 years, 11 months ago

If you believe the FBI is full of flaming liberals... please contact me immediately. I have some exciting business opportunities to share with you.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Tom Jones 3 years, 11 months ago

Ah, suddenly many of your posts make a lot more sense.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

Of course you're one of "those" people.

Guess what, I have wifi in the kitchen!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't believe the FBI is corrupt Bryce. If you said in-depth, I would have agreed.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

I meant to say "inept" instead of "in-depth". Voice technology really requires a lot of editing.

Robert Brock 3 years, 11 months ago

Pretty dumb comment, Bryce. You must subscribe to Breitbart and swoon when the Koch Brothers are mentioned.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

And I suppose you rely on the Clinton News Network for your info?

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

Your nicknames for people and networks only makes you look like a bigger idiot than your misogyny and constant negativity already did. Maybe someday you'll figure out that there are more places to get "news" than the major news networks and white supremacist websites.

Todd Hill 3 years, 11 months ago

Same FBI that could not locate a professed school shooter even after knowing his full name: Nicholas Cruz.

Bill Kackley 3 years, 11 months ago

One persons error, not thje whole FBI. Prodocals were in place, someone didn't follow them.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

How ridiculous was that? How many "red flags" must there be to raise a red flag? This kid should have been picked up for questioning and a short stay at a mental facility might have been all that was needed to end this horrific event before it ever happened.

It is also possible that if the FBI had done their job properly everything might still have happened. We will never know because they certainly didn't do their job.

John Brazelton 3 years, 11 months ago

Every 15 to 20 years, there's a scandal in college basketball. Usually, it because of a win-at-all costs philosophy or player point-shaving for sports gambling somewhere. Occasionally, you have a out-of-control criminal program like Baylor where someone gets murdered. Unfortunately, the shoe companies have the money poison the entire system. If you can corrupt the Louisville program and it's head coach, then that means a lot of other programs can be corrupted as well. It will be interesting to see which programs and coaches are accused, but it won't be good for college basketball regardless.

Tommy Tripp 3 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we do have something to worry about. This investigation started with and has revolved around James Gatto of Addidas. Of all the HOF coaches and top programs listed in the article there is only ONE Addidas school...Kansas. All of the other schools (KY, Duke, NC, MiSt and Syr) are all Nike schools. Now I am sure Nike, etc.. were all doing the same things behind the scenes but only the Addidas guy was caught red handed so who knows??? Myself I'm a bit worried.

Tommy Tripp 3 years, 11 months ago

One thing in our favor is no past KU players were represented by former NBA agent Andy Miller. A lot of the illegal data the FBI has is coming from info confiscated from Miller who was illegally funneling a lot of $ to recruits to play for Addidas schools and sign with him out of college!!!

Jay Hawkinson 3 years, 11 months ago

It's been clear for years that shoe companies and agents funnel lots of money to recruits. We know Selby and probably Cliff received benefits from an agent, and that could also be what happened to Billy. I think if the FBI investigated us, they would probably find at least a few more cases of players receiving money from these kinds of sources.

The big revelation from the first round of FBI arrests was that in at least some cases, this stuff was being coordinated by assistant coaches. So the key question will be whether our staff was involved, or if Adidas and agents were just doing their own thing.

Titus Canby 3 years, 11 months ago

If an agent or a shoe company gives money to a recruit, how is that illegal? I'm serious. What law is being broken?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Titus - I think it's called racketeering.

Kent Kossoy 3 years, 11 months ago

And in many situations the school or Coach can be held responsible for poor control on their program.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 11 months ago

AHHH......I miss the good old days of point shaving. It was all so simple then!!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

How many schools would have kept quiet any news of Preston's car issues? I would think quite a lot if the news about sexual malfeasance and school coverups is anywhere near as rampant as one might think if they paid any attention to the news.

Kansas, one of the premier Adidas schools, is apparently untouched by all accounts so far published. It seems at other schools, the head coach always has plausible deniability but most of us probably come to the same conclusion when it comes to head coaches who seem to know nothing about their athletes outside the gymnasium.

Coach Self is not one of those coaches. He knows exactly what is going on and acts accordingly. He runs a clean program despite the impact to the team. When this case is finally concluded, I hope everyone realizes just how good a coach we have at Kansas.

Brian Leslie 3 years, 11 months ago

Marius, I think most of us assume that "car issues" is a euphemism for whatever Preston really did. Remember that he was held out for game 1 before the car incident. I do like that Coach Self is proactive in the cases of Preston and Cliff Alexander and Josh Selby, but reading between the lines, that Yahoo story would tilt towards KU fans being worried, as the LJW story explains. We're not exactly running a St. Mary's level program; we're a school that has got the #1 recruit in 2 of the last 5 years.

I will be pretty shocked if Coach Self is personally implicated, but the assistants (especially the one who landed Wiggins and Jackson) should be concerned.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree Brian. The car wasn't a euphemism, the car was about the car. He sat out against Tennessee (first game of the year) for violating team rules.

Who knows what would've happened if Preston had been a better driver.

Robin Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

Here's what we learned from the bits in this article:

1) "almost half" of the field of sixteen revealed this past weekend is implicated, per source

2) NBA agent Andy Miller was intimately involved

My observations from sleuthing:

  • Previously, adidas was the focal point, but the field of sixteen is comprised of mostly Nike schools (11/16), 3 are Under Armor, and 2 are adidas (Kansas and Michigan State), which to me suggests this wave of leaked info is potentially not about adidas

  • Andy Miller reps players from a host of different schools, but almost exclusively Nike

  • from the field of sixteen there are 7 schools that have players repped by Andy Miller, which seems an appropriate number for "almost half", and these schools are Nova, Clemson, UNC, Virginia, Duke, Cincinnati, and Arizona (all but Cincy are Nike schools)

  • other schools with notable trends in Andy Miller reppings include Kentucky, Florida, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh (all of which are Nike schools)

The schools connected with Miller certainly contain "Hall of Fame coaches" and "lottery picks". I initally feared this article would show that this was further fallout from the adidas stuff last year, but this at least gives plausible indications that perhaps this is separate, and therefore hopeful regarding Kansas.

Steve Grimm 3 years, 11 months ago

This makes me terribly sad. But it is also not surprising. Anytime there are millions and millions of dollars in play, there will be people trying to get more. The temptations, I am sure, are so much stronger. It is a sad commentary about how skewed the priorities have become in college athletics. Perhaps the saddest part of this comes with the backdrop of students having to barely make ends meet to play and go to school.

Bill Kackley 3 years, 11 months ago

Steve sorry to say it but college sports are just mimicing life.

Alan Dickey 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow, Robin. That is incredibly important information, and I can't find it reported anywhere (aside from your post).

I find it interesting enough that I tried double-checking it to make sure (which wasn't terribly easy), and, indeed, you are correct. The specifics are as follows:

From the current NCAA projected field of sixteen, these are the seven schools that have had players represented by Andy Miller (I agree that this seems to be an appropriate number for “almost half” of the sixteen) (the dates are the dates the players entered the draft):

• Clemson (Jaron Blossomgame-2017; Trevor Booker-2010; Greg Buckner-1998)
• Arizona (Kaleb Tarczewski-2016)
• Duke (Austin Rivers-2012)
• Villanova (Maalik Wayns-2012; Antonio Pena-2011; Kyle Lowry-2006; Malik Allen-2000)
• Cincinnati (Jason Maxiell-2005; Kenyon Martin-2000)
• Virginia (Roger Mason-2002)
• UNC (Brendan Haywood-2001)

Other select schools with potential issues:

• Syracuse (Malachi Richardson-2016; Rakeem Christmas-2015)
• Texas (Myles Turner-2015; Daniel Gibson-2006)
• Louisville (Peyton Siva-2013)
• Georgetown (Hollis Thompson-2012)
• USC (Daniel Hackett-2009)
• KSA (Cartier Martin-2007)
• Indiana (Jared Jeffries-2002)
• Florida, Alabama, and Pittsburg also had several players each on the list.

I think Kentucky had one, but it was over twenty years ago.

[''] 3 years, 11 months ago

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to connect the dots. Wiggins & Jackson could have gone anywhere. Would have to be naive to think that they fell in love with my beloved Crimson & Blue.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 11 months ago

So, the promise of a spot in the starting five from a coach with a record of getting his best players into the NBA were not enough to convince Wigs and JJ to come to Kansas?

[''] 3 years, 11 months ago

NC, Mich St & Duke offer the exact same thing. Hoping for the best but I am a realist.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

So nobody can pick a favorite school/coach/thing without being bribed? I don't understand your logic.

Wiggin's brother played a few hours away which certainly had something to do with his decision and his parent's influence (easy on them to watch both kids play without traveling all over the country). No other school on his list could offer that.

Brad Watson 3 years, 11 months ago

Greed is everywhere....everyone wants a piece of the action....including some in the bureau.

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