We always assumed that agents were funneling money to elite college basketball and football players and their families under a quid pro quo of signing them when they become professionals, and today Pat Forde and Pete Thamel provided a hell of a confirming paper trail in the form of payments from NBA agent Andy Miller that were conveniently itemized in a spreadsheet.
Here was the nut graph:
The documents tie some of the biggest names and programs in the sport to activity that appears to violate the NCAA’s amateurism rules. This could end up casting a pall over the NCAA tournament because of eligibility issues. (NCAA officials declined a request for comment.) There’s potential impermissible benefits and preferential treatment for players and families of players at Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, Alabama and a host of other schools. The documents link some of the sport’s biggest current stars – Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Duke’s Wendell Carter – to specific potential extra benefits for either the athletes or their family members. The amounts tied to players in the case range from basic meals to tens of thousands of dollars.
The report went on to specifically detail how much money specific players got, and it ranged from Miles Bridges’ mom being the recipient of a $400 ATM withdrawal — she should’ve held out for more, no? — to former NC State player and current Dallas Maverick Dennis Smith receiving over $70,000 in “loans” before opting to sign with a different agency.
But, other than the tax implications, it’s unclear why these payments constitute a crime. As Jay Bilas explained on my podcast (above) when this story first broke in September and took down Rick Pitino and Louisville, the FBI investigation hinges on the belief that the college institutions are being defrauded by this behavior.
But, if they are being “defrauded,” it’s only because of archaic NCAA rules, which the university administrators could easily band together to change, that are essentially designed to try to prevent flooding water from finding a way. How many millions of dollars in taxpayer money are being spent on this?
The initial allegations of assistant coaches like Chuck Person accepting money from agents and then steering players to them is untoward because it involves adult mentors potentially selling out the players who trusted them. But as far as direct payments from agents to players or their families is concerned, the only true victims here are the clean agents.
Perhaps players named in this report could be declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, but otherwise there wasn’t anything in the latest developments that affects the competitive balance of the sport. While there was a reference of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo having a dinner with an associate of Andy Miller — hardly a stunner and not in and of itself illicit — there wasn’t anything in this report that directly charges coaches with wrongdoing. This report did not involve players getting suitcases of money to pick one college over another. It was front-end bribes for back-end representation.