The FBI’s probe into college basketball could result in potential NCAA violations for as many as three dozen Division-I programs. This according to sources cited in a new ESPN report regarding the investigation.
“It’s not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top,” a source told ESPN. “It’s the teams that are already there.”
The FBI’s investigation has hit some snags in recent weeks.
First, there was a report from The Wall Street Journal stating that one of the agents working undercover in the case misappropriated government money and spent it on gambling, food, and beverages. Earlier this week, the federal government dropped criminal charges against Jonathan Augustine, a former AAU basketball director from Florida who was one of the 10 men originally arrested in September.
Now, attorneys for former Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code and former sports agent Christian Dawkins are expected to argue in court that what their clients are accused of doing does not constitute a federal crime.
“It’s not surprising to me that the case has issues because it should have never been brought,” attorney Jeffrey Einhorn — who represents former USC assistant Tony Bland — told ESPN. “Everything about this case stinks.”
Even if the FBI’s case hits further snags, the information gathered from wiretaps, emails, financial records, and other procurements could be utilized by the NCAA in its own future investigations and rulings.
The sources told ESPN that many of the alleged incidents involve illegal cash payments to prospects and their families, as well as players and their families receiving tens of thousands of dollars from agents while they were still playing in college. In some cases, according to the sources, NCAA head coaches were aware of the payments, while others didn’t have knowledge of the schemes.
”At some point, the NCAA is going to see this stuff,” the source said. “What are they going to do? They can’t sit on their hands. If one kid is getting punished at USC for taking money, then the kid taking money at another school has to be punished, too.”
Sources close to the investigation also told ESPN that the charges against Augustine were dismissed because he never transferred the money to the high school player he was supposed to give it to. Instead he kept the money for himself.
These remain nervous times for everyone associated with high-level college basketball.