Have you ever heard the old phrase, “if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin”? Well it turns out quite a lot of top-level basketball programs across the country took this to heart. As you have probably already heard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation made news earlier this morning with some bombshell allegations. The accusation: assistant basketball coaches at programs across the country conspired with executives at clothing brand supplier Adidas to buy players. The plan was for these Adidas associates to pressure top recruits to attend schools that are sponsored by Adidas. So far, the only defendants to have been named are Chuck Person (Auburn), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Emanuel Richardson (Arizona), Tony Bland (Southern California), and Jim Gatto (Adidas).
While it isn’t clear just how long this investigation has been going on, the only clear thing is that the F.B.I. is not messing around. They have far greater investigative resources compared to the NCAA and simply could not let the NCAA botch another investigation. As of right now only those four schools have been specifically named, but more are expected to be named as the details of the investigation come forward. One school in particular, Louisville, is already in trouble with the NCAA for a previous scandal that resulted in them vacating their national title under Coach Rick Pitino. Louisville is believed to be involved in this scandal as well, which could prove quite dangerous for their program moving forward. Yahoo! Sports writer Pat Forde wrote an article earlier detailing why Louisville should be given the “death penalty” if the school is involved.
How will this scandal impact schools in the Group of 5? Not every school involved has been named yet but it is certainly possible that some schools from the Group of 5 could be involved. We just must wait and see if that is the case. College basketball has always been a dirty sport with coaches finding new ways to cheat every year. Even my alma mater, Southern Miss, went on probation after a previous coach initiated a cheating scandal that resulted in multiple year post-season bans. Schools from the smaller conferences are already at such a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, it is easy to see why a program or coach elects to take the easy way out and break some rules.
Since the only schools named so far have been from the Power 5 conferences, the ripples of this scandal may be hard to trace. Another thing to pay attention to is that this scandal involves Adidas while most of college athletic programs are sponsored by Nike. Adidas and Under Armour are always fighting for that number 2 spot, but Nike remains king. Right now, every school that associates with Adidas can be looked at with suspicion. And there are a good number of schools that associate with Adidas in the Group of 5. When these scandals happen, and involve the top tier programs, they usually always effect everyone down the line.
One can hope the end result from this is more bad people put away so they can’t do this again and more transparency in college athletics, especially basketball. It may take the F.B.I getting involved to get results. They definitely have so far. And for all the schools and coaches out there who haven’t been named yet but know they did something wrong, it’s only a matter of time.