It’s been 24 hours since the news broke of the arrests of four assistant coaches along with six other individuals caught in an FBI investigation into corruption and bribes in college basketball. And in that 24 hours, the earth in college basketball hasn’t stopped shaking.
At a press conference yesterday, Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Bill Sweeney, FBI assistant director, laid out the evidence uncovered in the probe.
Let me stop right there. If Joon H Kim, the acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Bill Sweeney, assistant director of the FBI, are talking about you on a Tuesday, that’s a bad day for you. A very, very bad day. And yesterday was a very, very bad day for college basketball.
Because they laid out a couple of alleged schemes, the first of which is where money would go from financial advisors to assistant coaches to entice players and their families to programs. Then the assistants would guide the players to the financial advisors when they would turn pro. And the other was a similar pattern with a shoe company. A classic win-win, bribe-bribe scenario.
Again, it has already cost Louisville coach and hall of famer Rick Pitino his job as well as Louisville AD Tom Jurich. Pitino had somehow survived a couple of monster scandals at Louisville as Jurich had his back, but neither one of them had a chance here. Especially, after what had already transpired there. And now, Pitino’s decorated career ends in disagree.
And obviously that’s not all: you have the four assistants from Arizona, Oklahoma State, USC, and Auburn that have been arrested,… listen to these schools: Louisville, Arizona, Oklahoma State, USC, Auburn, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones.
These aren’t a few rogue programs. These are theee programs. These are some of the premier programs in college basketball… and fact is, this is college basketball. This is how business is being conducted. And has been for a long time.
And this isn’t some message board losers claiming that their rival is cheating. And this isn’t the NCAA and their understaffed investigation department taking forever to investigate rules violations surrounding the snacks that are given to athletes.
This is the Federal Bureau of Investigation taking it’s time to investigate fraud, bribery, and corruption. This is a financial planner with contacts in the sports world who got caught in a securities fraud case and rolled. And when he rolled, he rolled pretty hard, bringing an undercover FBI agent into meetings, conversations, and seemingly in on everything.
That’s how you end up with wire taps, recorded conversations, and text message exchanges. That’s how coaches and athletic directors get fired. That’s how you end up with guys facing jail time and nearly every coach in the country waking up in a cold sweat this morning. Because this statement from the undercover FBI agent, should terrify every coach in America:
“Because this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause, it does not include all of the facts that I have learned during the court of the investigation.”
That’s some straight nightmare fuel right there. You know practically every coach out there stayed up last night, wondering if the undercover agent is talking about him and his program. And you know when Kim said that it would be better if you call us instead of us calling you, assistant coaches around the country had their phones in their hands and were seriously thinking about dialing.
Because the problem isn’t that a few big programs were caught up in this FBI investigation, it’s that it’s a safe bet that most programs could’ve been caught up in an investigation like this. This isn’t shocking. It’s S.O.P, standard operating procedure, which shows exactly how jacked up the sport is and how badly it needs to be fixed.
The surprise isn’t that this is going on. Or even that these guys were caught… the surprise is that it took so long to catch them, that it took this long for someone to finally roll and help the feds get access to this info.
So you Alabama and UCLA fans can skip me with the cracks about how funny it was that the feds referred to Auburn and USC as elite programs. Hilarious. That goes for any college basketball fan. Just because your school’s name wasn’t announced yesterday doesn’t mean it won’t be announced tomorrow. Or the day after. Because this isn’t over. Not even close.
Again, this isn’t about the NCAA ripping a few scholarships or making a school vacate a few wins, or even a national title. This is about the feds…wiretaps and potential jail time for those involved. Hard time. Not a slap on the wrist. But silver bracelets on the wrist.
Again, the Feds almost never, ever lose these cases. If their involved, they already know the outcome.
As for the outcome here, it could be the biggest scandal in the sport’s history. And it’s obviously going to get much, much worse before it gets any better, because the Feds clearly have way more information than they’re sharing or more guys are certainly going to roll than already have. Snitches may get stitches, but they may also get a shorter stint in the slam.