Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: An investigation reportedly has unearthed corruption in college athletics.
The latest exposé comes from Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde and Pete Thamel: Players from at least a dozen Division I men’s basketball programs may have violated NCAA rules by accepting impermissible benefits from former NBA agent Andy Miller, according to documents Yahoo obtained from a multi-year FBI investigation.
Those documents detail Miller and his agency, ASM Sports, paying cash advances and covering travel and entertainment expenses to a number of high school and college prospects and their families in an “underground recruiting operation,” per Yahoo Sports.
The report implicates top-tier programs and talent: players from Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, Alabama and a “host” of other schools, including Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Duke’s Wendell Carter.
Former college stars are involved, as well: Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. reportedly received $73,500 in loans from ASM before signing with another agency and playing at NC State, as did Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead ($37,657 in loans) and even No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz ($10,000 in loans).
It’s a damning, widespread report that could affect the upcoming NCAA Tournament, as players involved could be declared ineligible. Unfortunately, though, it’s not all that surprising.
While college athletes are barred from getting paid — itself a contentious issue — college programs and agents long have used under-the-table bribes and “perks” to try to woo players and their families. Look no further than Louisville, which just had its 2013 national title revoked after allegations it hired strippers to entertain recruits.
This latest report is different, in that it involves bribery by an agency rather than a team. In that sense, its ramifications arguably are less severe: A player choosing one agency over another affects college basketball’s competitive balance far less than, say, that player choosing Duke over North Carolina because of cash payments.
In any event, Thursday’s report will re-open the debate over whether college athletes should be paid up front, while the schools and players will await their fate from the NCAA.
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