Nearing the end of the discovery phase of the NCAA Bribery Case, Yahoo! Sports released several documents detailing numerous potential NCAA violations involving even more players and schools than originally thought. Among the schools named: Duke University, North Carolina State University (NC State), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).
“Me and my Moms was poor, I’ll tell you that. They expected me to step foot on a college campus and not go to the NBA, then we weren’t going to be poor for long. That’s a fact.” – LeBron James on the NCAA leaks
Much of the information seems to revolve around dealings with sports agent Andy Miller, his associate Christian Dawkins, and his agency ASM Sports. The documents leaked include reports listing cash advances for high school prospects, college players, and their families.
The leaked reports seem to indicate that Duke and UNC have relatively minor roles in the scandal. Among the players allegedly involved in the scandal is Duke’s starting power forward Wendell Carter, alleging that his family accepted a meal from ASM Sports at a value less than $200. The NCAA currently allows payments less than $200 to individual players to be repaid to charities of the player’s choice to avoid losing eligibility.
As for UNC, the report named former players Tony Bradley and Brice Johnson for violations similar to that of Duke’s Wendell Carter. On the same hand, UNC currently has a commitment from Nassir Little who was described in the original FBI report as receiving impermissible benefits. Both schools have released statements on the issue, with Duke’s Athletic Director Kevin White stating, “Duke immediately reviewed the matter and, based on the available information, determined there are no eligibility issues related to today’s report.” While referring to the report, UNC Men’s Basketball coach Roy Williams stated, “If the phone rings at night, I’m not worried about that. I may worry about a lot of other things, but it ain’t about that.”
“We are 100 percent not involved in this.” – NC State men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts in a phone conversation with The News & Observer
On the other hand, NC State was not as fortunate. In the report, former Wolfpack point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who currently plays for the Dallas Mavericks, allegedly accepted $73,000 in loans. After hearing of the report, NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow responded by stating, “the report involves an agent NC State disassociated with in 2012”—referencing a letter NC State sent to Andy Miller in 2012. No formal punishments have been handed down yet, but it has left many wondering when NCAA programs will be penalized for their actions.
Despite no formal punishments, one school is already suffering the consequences of their program’s actions. The FBI used wiretaps to record conversations between Arizona head coach Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins. In the conversations, Sean Miller discussed paying $100,000 to current star freshman DeAndre Ayton in order to secure his commitment to Arizona. It is important to note that Ayton’s attorney has since denied the allegations against Ayton. Since the release, Sean Miller has not coached the basketball team, but DeAndre Ayton continues his superb freshman year. All of this comes on the heels of Arizona’s firing of assistant basketball coach Emanuel Richardson last September. To add on to the list of consequences, Hall of Fame basketball player Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef, a highly–touted recruit, decommitted from Arizona.
“. . . Everybody knows everybody’s getting paid and that’s how it is. Everybody’s getting paid anyway. You might as well make it legal. That’s how I feel.” – Lonzo Ball to NBC Los Angeles
Lonzo Ball and LeBron James are not the only National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars to weigh–in on whether athletes should be paid. Kevin Durant, a star player of the Golden State Warriors, told reporters, “you can’t control an agent, you can kind of keep them out of these programs, keep them out of the building but it’s too deep now”—suggesting that the NCAA has a long way to go before the issue is resolved.
Durant played for one year at the University of Texas and went on to be the first freshman named player of the year by the Associated Press. Another former NCAA player, Carmelo Anthony, offered his thoughts: “If they don’t want to figure it out, then I don’t think it’ll get figured out. Then we’ll continue to have these issues and having these problems.” Anthony won a national championship as a freshman at Syracuse University.
NBA superstars are not the only ones chiming in. Current ESPN Analyst and former Duke University basketball star Jay Williams has called for a boycott of the NCAA tournament. “Imagine how quickly the NCAA would realize it’s not just a business for themselves,” Williams remarks, “[t]hat’s how you make a change.” It is tough to imagine a NCAA team completely boycotting the NCAA tournament, but Williams is not alone in calling for players to boycott.
Perhaps the most intriguing thoughts on the NCAA corruption scandal was offered by former president Barack Obama. President Obama referenced embracing a “well–structured” G–League, which is the current farm–system structure for the NBA. The league has not had nearly as much success as the MLB’s Minor League Baseball. Obama seems to be an advocate for the G–League as a substitute for the NCAA.
“What I’ve said about the one–and–done rule is that it doesn’t appear to be working for anyone.” – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on ESPN Radio’s morning show “Golic and Wingo”
When LeBron James was choosing a school, he had the option of going straight to the NBA, but that all changed in 2005 when the NBA created the one–and–done rule. The rule requires prospects to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from high school. Now, with all the NCAA issues, the ball is in NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s hands. He has an opportunity to bring reform to college basketball and get rid of the one–and–done rule.
While the leaked reports are already putting many teams on edge, it is important to remember that the FBI is still uncovering many violations. As much as the NCAA wants this nightmare to be over, it appears that it will not be over any time soon. In the coming months, we will likely see more athletes, coaches, and advocates speaking out on behalf of college athletes.