Friday, February 23, 2018

Kansas linked to college basketball scandal in Yahoo Sports report

Kansas guard Josh Jackson jokes around with head coach Bill Self during a kid's clinic on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam fitness center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson jokes around with head coach Bill Self during a kid's clinic on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam fitness center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Lubbock, Texas — For the first time, Kansas basketball on Friday morning became linked to the FBI's investigation into widespread corruption in college basketball.

According to a report published by Yahoo Sports, documents from the investigation show that Apples Jones, the mother of former KU standout and current Phoenix Suns rookie Josh Jackson, received a loan from a sports agency sometime before Jackson left for the NBA.

The Yahoo Sports article states that Christian Dawkins, a former associate of one-time NBA agent Andy Miller, sought reimbursement of $2,700 loaned to Jackson's mother.

One expense report reviewed and made public by Yahoo cited a $1,700 advance to Jones in February 2016. Jackson, who was also recruited by Arizona and Michigan State, committed to KU in April 2016.

Reached by the Journal-World Friday evening, Jones denied receiving a loan from Dawkins.

“Not true,” Jones told the Journal-World. “I don't even know why I was mentioned. I don't know why my name was brought up. Not true at all.”

Early Friday night, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self reacted to the report.

“After reading the article this morning, like most of us involved in college athletics, we’re hearing and learning about it for the first time,” Self said in a statement released to the media. “I, along with our administration, am evaluating the credibility of the information related to Kansas. I do know for sure that we did not use Miller’s agency for recruiting purposes or any purpose.”

The Yahoo report said hundreds of federal documents pertaining to the investigation were reviewed for the story.

In addition to Jackson, who left Kansas for the NBA last summer after one season, those documents link current college players, including Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Duke's Wendell Carter and Alabama's Collin Sexton, to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules.

According to the report, players and family members allegedly received cash, entertainment and travel expenses from Miller and his agency ASM Sports.

The article also states Miller, who has not been charged in the case and is believed to be cooperating with the government, “relinquished his NBA Players Association agent certification in the wake of the probe.”

As has been the case since last September, when federal criminal charges were levied against 10 people associated with college basketball, including assistant coaches, shoe executives and an agent, the FBI's investigation is ongoing and could hang over the sport for years.

NCAA president Mark Emmert, in a statement released early Friday morning, said the allegations in the Yahoo report, “if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”

Emmert said the NCAA Board of Governors and recently formed independent Commission on College Basketball are committed to "making transformational changes" and will cooperate with federal prosecutors to “identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”

The documents posted Friday by Yahoo also list loans to players who, at the time, were outside the NCAA's student-athlete system and were already considered professionals.

One of those players was former KU guard Elijah Johnson, who is listed on a December 2015 balance sheet next to a $15,020 loan. Johnson graduated from KU in 2013. Based on the document posted by Yahoo, it is unclear when Johnson received the loan.

Johnson signed with ASM Sports before the 2013 NBA Draft and was represented by agent Stephen Pina. Pina is linked to several cases involving impermissible payments to high school and college players, according to Yahoo's report.

Johnson went undrafted by the NBA but played professionally overseas.

When the FBI charges first became public last fall, just four schools — Arizona, Auburn, Louisville and Oklahoma State — were connected to the scandal. On Friday, the Yahoo report implicated nearly 25 more in some manner, including KU and fellow blue bloods Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina.

Throughout the day, athletic directors from some of those schools and others in the report released statements.

Said Duke athletic director Kevin White: “A Duke student-athlete was identified in a Yahoo! Sports report this morning about men’s college basketball. Duke immediately reviewed the matter and, based on the available information, determined there are no eligibility issues related to today’s report. Duke has already contacted the NCAA and will continue to work collaboratively with the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke has an uncompromising commitment to compliance in athletics. That has not, and will not, change.”

Added Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright in an email to the Wichita Eagle, responding to former WSU guard Fred Van Vleet's name appearing in the Yahoo report: “We are dedicated to conducting all aspects of Wichita State’s intercollegiate athletic programs with integrity and in full compliance with NCAA and American Athletic Conference rules. We have no knowledge of the transactions described in the Yahoo report published this morning. We will fully cooperate with any formal inquiries from NCAA or legal authorities regarding this matter.”

— Journal-World Sports Editor Tom Keegan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Michael Maris 4 years, 5 months ago

Just a TON of witch hunting taking place in this nation. And, the corrupt FBI is leading this investigation.

Paul Brittain 4 years, 5 months ago

Just because you don't like the results doesn't make it fabricated. Try to stick to basketball, ok? Ask yourself this, what does the FBI have to gain by trying to take down college basketball? If you answered "nothing", you answered correctly.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Actually, the FBI has a lot to gain. Anything that takes the public's attention away from the FBI's mishandling of the Florida school shooting and other recent bumbled investigations. The timing of this recent release of information isn't just a coincidence.

The FBI is NOT corrupt a but like every government organization, it can be inept. Overall, they are by far the best at what they do.

But please, we've been down the political divide among us and it has absolutely nothing to do with Kansas basketball.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 5 months ago

Michael, we get who you support in politics, okay? There are unlimited sites where we can offer that up.

Is it really necessary to bring it here?

Kelly Dietrich 4 years, 5 months ago

The FBI is not corrupt - and why would it lead to an NCAA investigation if it were? Just because you don't like the facts doesn't mean they aren't true. Try to keep an open mind.

Allan Olson 4 years, 5 months ago

FBI had wiretap of Rick Pitino and he's toast. Now has wiretap of Sean Miller conspiring with this Dawkins character for Ayton's services at $110K. I'd say Arizona U. is looking straight down the barrel of PITINO II. And unlike Louisville's supposed offending freshman player, Ayton has played in all their games this season. Would be ironic if Arizona wins National Championship this year, and like Louisville, its subsequently vacated?

Robert Brock 4 years, 5 months ago

I like the FBI and HATE the NBA and its corrupt agents and street runners. Book ‘em!

Allan Olson 4 years, 5 months ago

Some entity with REAL legal and investigative powers has to be involved in this corruption of college basketball. The NCAA has its hands full checking out high school transcripts and dented used cars for weeks and months. And, keeping its head firmly in the sand!!!

David Kelley-Wood 4 years, 5 months ago

"The Yahoo Sports article states that Christian Dawkins, a former associate of one-time NBA agent Andy Miller, sought reimbursement of $2,700 loaned to Jackson's mother.

One expense report reviewed and made public by Yahoo cited a $1,700 advance to Jones in February 2016."

"Reached by the Journal-World Friday evening, Jones denied receiving a loan from Dawkins."

Hmm. Could very easily be that Dawkins, whose sleaziness doesn't appear to be in question, never made the loans, and simply pocketed what he purported to be expense reimbursements.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 5 months ago

Glad you posted this Mr. David. Expense report fraud. Outside of picking up the tab for meals, etc., there are probably no receipts to be turned in. Unless Dawkins and Miller have legal proof including willing to verify witnesses then goodbye money. How arrogant or confident do you have to be to keep records like these anyway?

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Too many fish in this kettle to fry; NCAA will take some sort of symbolic action, like maybe appointing a recruitment officer for each school that will act as an NCAA observer independent of the assigned university. Won't that be a nice addition to head coach headaches.

I don't think are recruits will be going away since most of the desirable locations are part of the search.

Brian Skelly 4 years, 5 months ago

 My only concern would be was this sorta money funneled through an agent, from a KU booster or something.    Otherwise, this is a whole lotta nothing.    Duke is approaching the right way.
 Im confident KU will do the same.

Joe Ross 4 years, 5 months ago

Paul Pierce had it right as a guest on an ESPN show this afternoon. This is a problem only of big schools, because they're the ones that the blue chip recruits are going to. With what has come to light thus far, it's encouraging to me that Kansas has only been implicated with two players. One that was gone at the time of alleged loans taking place (meaning Kansas is not culpable). And the other being still open to conjecture. Remember, the FBI still has to prove that money changed hands. "Somewhere" between Christian Dawkins' filing expense reports seeking reimbursements he said he had paid to Apples Jones and between Jones' denial, something is not adding up. If the money was given in cash (allegedly), there'd be no way to prove the money changed hands unless there were camera footage or a wire-tapped phone conversation with her admitting she took anything. If the money was given by any other means, there would be a paper trail left (deposits, cashed check, what have you). All the FBI would have to do is look at Dawkins' transaction history. This is not a difficult case to wrap up. My guess, however, is that the FBI will leave this out there to scare other people with an appearance of a wide net being cast, to soften them into confessions and the like. My intuition, however, is that the FBI doesn't have much of anything on Kansas unless it involves Billy Preston (there has been some speculation that the car he was involved in an accident with was an impermissible gift, but let's be fair to Preston: we don't know that).

Finally, it makes sense now why Deandre Ayton bolted to AZ unexpectedly. Most of you guys remember he was nearly signed, sealed, and delivered to Kansas before the shocking decision to attend Arizona. Thank God we didn't get him! If we did, Kansas could probably have avoided sanctions because we had no knowledge of it. But like in the case of Derrick Rose in 2009, lack of knowledge by the institution could still result in vacated wins. If Ayton and his family had a propensity toward accepting impermissible benefits, that liability may have traveled with him to Kansas. Ive been saying for a long time now that we need to pay the players. The first issue is one of fairness. They generate too much money for the colleges and universities they play for while many of them are impoverished. They can't get jobs like other college students due to their athletic commitments. And the scholarship they receive is disproportionately small compared to the huge amount of money they generate. The second issue is that it cleans up the game as it reduces the incentive to take anything from these financial predators waving cash. Ayton could have stayed "clean". Imagine him at Kansas, then. He AND Azubuike! Wow...

Kent Richardson 4 years, 5 months ago

Your usual thoughtful comments Joe, thank you. The billion dollars the NCAA gets from television and other media sources for tournament coverage should be put to a more equitable uses I'm sure.

The FBI is only the investigative arm of the Justice department. FBI involvement mostly ends when the information gathering is completed. Justice decides and indicts if there are were crimes committed that can be successfully prosecuted.

Most of this will be possible NCAA rules enforcement in which Justice will have neither authority or interest in.

4 years, 5 months ago

That's interesting Kent as I have wondered all along where exactly is there any law being broken. I am bombarded almost daily with offers of money loans so what exactly is going on here? Sure the NCAA rules are there but I don't see anything fraudulent, maybe someone could help me see the light. RCJH

Joe Ross 4 years, 5 months ago

"The scheme described in a federal indictment last fall in which shoe brands and/or agents allegedly paid assistant/head coaches would constitute bribery of federal official, because assistant and head coaches are public employees. However, an agent loaning prospective clients money in return for future consideration isn’t a crime. While the payments — if confirmed — would be NCAA violations, no one would be arrested for the quid pro quo. Another possibility is that the FBI doesn’t have much more on the schools and its players than has already been made public, and that the full breadth of any new revelations will result in NCAA violations and suspensions but not federal charges."

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

I saw the show also. I would like to know how Preston received the car but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the FBI investigation.

I had a family member loan me a car when I was at Kansas. Guess it's a good thing I can't play basketball worth a sh**.

I look forward to seeing how Arizona handles Ayton and Miller. My guess would be that Ayton will be suspended indefinitely (and never plays again at Arizona) and that Miller gets his walking papers this weekend.

And as an aside, I've really enjoyed watching Paul Pierce learn his new profession.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

The report that just came out come from one specific agency. Preston supposedly got the car from a booster.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for that info. I've heard SEVERAL different versions of the car. If it came from a booster then he should at least be publicly identified as that is clearly an NCAA violation.

Jeff Foster 4 years, 5 months ago

So question. We're not naive enough to think this isn't happening in football too, are we? Given the more than huge revenue college football generates, I wonder why the FBI either hasn't looked at that or it hasn't even been discussed yet. At least that I've seen.

I agree with you too, on lots of these allegations, it's just someone's ledger that can be manufactured to say anything. You'd think for them to put all this info out and call out schools, coaches, players and families, they'd have concrete evidence, otherwise they're slandering people. In order to prove she really is a bad Apple, I guess I'd like to see the actual proof of her accepting cash.

Joe Ross 4 years, 5 months ago

Shoe company executives are generally not as interested in the recruiting side of college football yet. Also, with a more limited number of spots on college basketball rosters compared to football, the pressure to land blue chip players in basketball is much, much greater, and this presents an opportunity that would-be parasites can take advantage of. To answer your question directly, though, the answer is "yes"; scandals like those plaguing college basketball are almost certainly going on in football as well.

Mike Riches 4 years, 5 months ago

Jay Bilas talked about this yesterday on PTI, and wondered why Emmert is singling out basketball when it's obvious that this is an issue in football as well. The money may not be coming from shoe companies, but whether it's boosters, agents or whoever, this is surely a problem that needs to be addressed in major college football.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

The same thing happened with Kaleb Tarczewski, who was apparently headed to Kansas before AZ came out of nowhere to sign him.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Suzi, I would be surprised if it didn't happen with several bigs who signed with Arizona.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 5 months ago

They got the Arizona HC on wiretaps talking payments. So now my guess is the four schools that had assistants arrested (Arizona, Oklahoma St., Auburn, and USC) are in really big trouble.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 5 months ago

Zona has to go into immediate damage control mode and suspend their coach and probably D Ayton, don't they? If Miller is fired with cause his contract allows him to receive 85% of his compensation until 2022. Wow!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 5 months ago

The good news is that this involves former players, so there's no hits to our already-thin roster that can't afford to take any hits.

As for the players affected, there's no evidence yet that Elijah Johnson got money while at KU.

As for Josh Jackson, there's still a lot that we don't know, and, after my initial panic, reflected in some of the comments on the original article about Kansas being implicated in the scandal, I see no reason to have to vacate the 2016-17 season.

Humpy Helsel 4 years, 5 months ago

One of the big questions in all of this is to what extent you can hold a school responsible for what transpired between a player, their family and an agent of some type. Anyone ever around the AAU circuit in the off season knows family members, players, particularly elite ones, and the shoe people, coaches and "agents" are all mixed up with each other in an amalgam. Questions like were any school-hired coaches, staff members, boosters, alumni, etc involved in any way with a "transaction" will be critical to any investigation. Further, what did the school (or anyone connected with the school) know, and when did they know it, will be important questions going forward. How difficult will that to be to sort out? In the scope of all of this I would think pretty difficult. If there is a silver lining in this playbook, Kansas is in very good company and so far we are on the lighter end of this. Do we think the Billy Preston car deal would have ever reached the level of investigation prior to all of this college basketball corruption surfacing? I really doubt we would ever have even of heard of it other than the fact Billy was not injured in the accident. They can convict, sanction, suspend and fire all they want as a result of this investigation, but if it doesn't lead to meaningful reform it will continue to happen with participants just being more careful. Any mixture of parents who live in poverty, elite players with a shot in just a few short years of making millions barring injury, big money shoe/clothing companies, coaches who survive on their won/loss records, and AAU coaches and "agents" will prove too tempting and we will have the "same song, second verse" playing over and over again.

Brian Jahelka 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm with you on this. I don't see how KANSAS U can be held responsible for a player or parent taking or getting "loaned" money from some sports agent. Or for that matter, a shoe company. Or even, a booster (that however, would be very sad to me that a KU alum would put KU sports in jeopardy of NCAA sanctions in the first place).

The headline of this story says KANSAS is linked to a "scandal". There is zero evidence in anything I've seen that shows that Kansas administration or coaches are somehow associated with any of this (alleged) low level "bribery" or "loaning" of monies. Is this implying that Kansas was using these sports agents or shoe companies as proxies to land recruits?

So there is some messiness going on with slummy sports agents and shoe companies. By all means, expose it and get rid of it. I'm no expert, but I do seem to recall that sometimes the University that the student attends then has to pay the price, even if the University has no idea that impermissible benefits were received. Really, how are they to know? How COULD they know? If the player wanted to advertise it, then they would drive around a brand new Cadillac that was bought for them, and that would probably seem fishy and could be checked out right? But what if they were "smart" about it and hid the money away? Or gave it to their family? I just don't understand how the onus is on the University to police this stuff, or even be held responsible if it did happen. I'm not saying that the University should be able to look the other way.

Obviously, if the University (coaches or staff) is PART of the whole thing, then I can see how they are responsible. There will always be enterprising scumbags that will do things even though they are against the rules, hiding it the best they can, and hoping they don't ever get caught. How can you place the burden on the University to know if/when something smelly happens? Are they supposed to hire a PI? Call the sheriff (its not even a legal matter is it? Its just complying with NCAA rules right? Why does the sheriff (or FBI) care?)

Maybe someone can 'splain it to me. But so far all of this seems to be a bunch of hype over one investigation into one sports agent company. There may be NCAA violations going on here (but I still don't see how the University is at fault). And I certainly don't see anything criminal going on.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 5 months ago

Humpy makes a very good point. In the past when people have been caught in any genre with their hand in the cookie jar, they simply found different ways to "skin the cat". I am sure that will happen in this case and the investigators will find new ways to catch them. There is one solution. It is common sense. Bill Self and his counterparts over the country make millions of dollars doing a job only a few are competent at and should count their blessings and not put that golden goose at risk by trying to add a special player to the roster. Just do your job and the guys who are cheating will eventually get caught because cheaters are by nature risk takers who will continue to live on the edge until they do get caught. Sounds to me like Kansas is in good shape compared to most in this situation.

Brad Watson 4 years, 5 months ago

Rule changes are coming....the question is ....stricter or more lenient.

Brad Watson 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm old school I say stricter....but not really knowing exactly what goes on behind the scenes...its looking at it from my world...agents would be banned and kids would have to stay 3 years and freshman would have to sit and learn until January...but what do I know.

Alan Dickey 4 years, 5 months ago

As a big Jayhawk fan, I’m not worried about any of this.

ELIJAH JOHNSON: The available documents appear to show that he had an outstanding balance on a loan of $15,020 as of December 31, 2015. It is not clear when the loan was made. Johnson was a good player for KU. But he was the 24th-ranked recruit when he committed to KU, but he scored a total of 180 points during his first two years (3.1 ppg) behind such guards as Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, and Tyrell Reed. He committed to KU seven months after we won a National Championship.

There simply is no plausible explanation for KU, shortly after winning a NC to be involved in anyone paying for a player like EJ, either to recruit him or to keep him at KU. This is bolstered in my mind given my personal belief that Self isn’t dirty like some other coaches.

JOSH JACKSON: Apples either did or did not receive a small loan from ASM. If she did not, end of story. If she did, again, there would be no plausible incentive for Self, or other KU staff, to be involved in it, and there isn’t any evidence that we know of that they knew about it. There just isn’t any comparison to Miller, who had a big incentive to pay $100K to Ayton to get him to change his mind at the last minute and give Arizona a chance at being competitive.

BILLY PRESTON: He never played at KU except in exhibition games. He has no stat-line at KU. He illustrates the unlikelihood that Self or others at KU acted improperly as to Johnson or Jackson. When KU learned that there was an issue with Preston’s car, KU suspended him immediately, even though he was a top-10 recruit, and we needed him. What issue could either the FBI or NCAA possibly have with KU voluntarily not playing a an important member of KU’s roster when KU learned that there was an issue with his eligibility? He never scored a point or made a rebound at KU except in scrimmages.

Austin Bergstrom 4 years, 5 months ago

I think the Billy Preston "car accident" was a cover up! Way to coincidental that he was suspended the first game for skipping class, then the accident happens and never plays a game at KU. You can fool some of the people all the time but you can't fool all the people some of the time.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 5 months ago

Just what do you mean by a cover up, Austin? By whom, and in what way?

KU had questions about Billy Preston, and they internally decided to sit him down until the matter was resolved one way or the other. Sounds pretty ethical to me!

Alan Dickey 4 years, 5 months ago

Right. And what would KU be covering up about Preston — by drawing national attention to him?

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