Column: A new scandal; will the NCAA respond to the latest FBI probe documents?

Posted on Mar 1 2018 - 7:56am by Logan Conner

Coming on the heels of an expansive investigation into the Ole Miss football program that resulted in a two-year bowl ban, a loss of scholarship and a vacation of wins, the NCAA finds itself in the middle of another scandal of significantly greater magnitude regarding improper benefits. This time it’s with some of the most prominent college basketball programs and players in the nation. And less than a month after the Larry Nassar case led to another federal investigation of a powerhouse athletic program, it’s certainly not a good look.

Though there have been earlier reports of violations committed by multiple assistant coaches from top collegiate basketball programs, the latest reports have proven to be much more substantial. After viewing hundreds of pages of documents and intercepting more than 4,000 calls, Yahoo Sports released the evidence and bank records found in an FBI investigation into many college basketball programs and players. In addition, the records indicate the expenditures of former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency, ASM Sports.

From cash advances to entertainment and travel expenses, the reports show a massive number of current and former college basketball players from at least 20 Division I basketball programs that received benefits. Programs included in the reports were Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, Alabama and others. Some of college basketball’s biggest current stars were also included: Miles Bridges (Michigan State), Collin Sexton (Alabama) and Wendell Carter (Duke).

In the report, several players were named as receiving four and five-figure loans, including:
· Dennis Smith Jr. – The Mavericks star rookie, who played for North Carolina State from 2016-17, received a total of $73,500 in loans despite not signing with ASM.
· Jarell Martin – the former LSU player received $52,472 according to documents.
· Isaiah Whitehead – As a freshman at Seton Hall, Whitehead received $37,657 before signing with ASM. Whitehead later left ASM for Roc Nation.
· Tim Quarterman – While a junior at LSU, Quarterman received at least $16,000 according to documents.
· Edrice “Bam” Adebayo – The former Kentucky star received approximately $12,000 during the 2016-17 season.
· Markelle Fultz – The No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft received $10,000 during his freshman season at Washington. He did not sign with ASM.
· Kyle Kuzma – The current Lakers sensation received at least $9,500 while in school at Utah, according to the documents.

These high-cost athletes joined a list of other predominantly known current and former college basketball stars, who reportedly received lesser benefits.

Current players to be named in the investigation are Bennie Boatwright (USC), Chimezie Metu (USC), who both received at least $2,000, and Kevin Knox (Kentucky), who received an unknown amount. Other important players to be named are Edmond Sumner (Xavier), P.J. Dozier (South Carolina), Fred VanVleet (Wichita State), Kyle Lowry (Villanova), Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) and Apple Jones, mother of former Kansas star Josh Jackson.

For the NCAA, this report adds pressure to an already scrutinized organization that has faced recent controversies from the likes of the ongoing Ole Miss scandal and the ever-evolving Larry Nassar scandal. With top college programs in the middle of this report, the impact of the facts given could be monumental and, with so much information to sort, could take years to investigate.

This report once again raises the question as to whether or not college athletes should be paid. In fact, NBA stars Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony have voiced their support for the pay of college athletes, considering the revenue that the NCAA generates on a yearly basis.

The NCAA research staff has estimated that college athletics programs generate about $11.4 billion annually from ticket sales, television and media receipts, and allocated revenue, such as student fees alone. Not included in this figure is the 14-year, $10.8 billion contract that the NCAA has with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting and other sponsorship agreements.

With more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, the organization finds itself in the middle of a growing conversation about players’ pay, with no end in sight. Considering the amount of revenue the NCAA and its institutions collect, the pay of players is something that is highly debated and, although unlikely, may be the only option when the ground-shaking NCAA basketball investigation comes to a close.

Whether a decision is made to compensate student-athletes or not, the NCAA is in trouble when the final documents are released. However, with the number of powerhouse programs involved, the chances of a high-level punishment are slim and will certainly leave Ole Miss and its fanbase scratching their heads.