FBI Findings Expose NCAA Corruption – High-Profile Coaches and Players Involved in Payment Scandal

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After being caught on a wire-tap discussing a $100,000 transaction to lock down top recruit DeAndre Ayton, University of Arizona coach Sean Miller has been sidelined. Although analyst Jay Bilas says this scandal is career-ending for Miller, his future with Arizona has yet to be determined.

Ethan Marchetti, Maroon-News Staff

A recent string of allegations and FBI findings has emerged regarding the NCAA.  On February 23, Yahoo! Sports released a report that detailed some shocking discoveries from the FBI’s investigation into NCAA basketball recruiting corruption.  

Over 20 men’s basketball programs, including elite teams like Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State, and at least 25 current and former players, such as Miles Bridges (Michigan State), Wendell Carter (Duke) and Bam Adebayo (Kentucky), were directly linked to allegations of “potentially impermissible benefits and preferential treatment.” 

Louisville was among some of the other schools named in the report, which is interesting considering the program was stripped of its 2013 NCAA Championship season for a separate recruiting violation. 

Agents Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins were both heavily implicated in the FBI investigation as well. Dawkins, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) figure and former tournament director, and Miller, ASM Sports founder and former NBA agent, apparently worked in tandem to ensure that high profile recruits were guaranteed large sums of money to ensure their commitment to given schools.

Several players were said to have received over $10,000 during their recruitment processes. Of the current NBA players identified in the case, Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) was reportedly given $73,500, Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall) was given $37,000, and 76ers #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz (Washington) was given $10,000. Some other NBA players, including Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, have weighed in on the situation. 

Though he alleges he did not receive any money from recruiting agents while at UCLA, Ball commented, “Everybody knows everybody’s getting paid. Might as well make it legal.”

To add to this madness, another report surfaced involving Arizona coach Sean Miller and Dawkins. 

A different series of FBI wiretaps intercepted multiple conversations between the two in which Miller repeatedly discussed a $100,000 transaction to lock down top recruit DeAndre Ayton. 

A lawyer representing Ayton and his family has called the allegations false and asked the FBI to publicly clear Ayton’s name. This seemed to be enough evidence for Shareef O’Neal, though. 

Elite recruit and son of Shaquille O’Neal decommitted from Arizona shortly after the report was made public.

It will certainly be interesting to see if any other top recruits will follow suit. The findings from this investigation also bring about other questions, such as whether any of next season’s incoming recruits were involved in similar scandals. 

Duke, for instance, was named in this investigation, yet the program was also able to land the top three 2018 high school recruits, including highly-touted commit Zion Williamson who has picked up fame for his highlight-reel dunks. 

Surely there will be speculation about the nature of these and many other commitments to implicated schools, and because of the extensive scale of this scandal, it is by no means a stretch to imagine that similar cases may surface in the near future. This has almost certainly cast a shadow over March Madness, and the basketball world can only hope that these findings do not become the norm in NCAA men’s basketball. 

Contact Ethan Marchetti at [email protected]