Alabama Basketball: The wheel is slowly but maybe surely turning on NCAA college basketball investigations.
Alabama basketball fans want redemption. The Crimson Tide received a minor NCAA probation. What about other SEC basketball programs almost assuredly guilty of more severe infractions.
It is hard to have faith in NCAA enforcement. Former UNLV, head coach Jerry Tarkanian had a PhD. in NCAA enforcement from the ‘school of hard knocks.’ For decades Tark openly battled the NCAA. He is famous for one sentence highlighting the NCAA’s too often leniency for blue-blood basketball programs.
The NCAA was so mad at Kentucky they gave Cleveland State two more years of probation.
Finding humor in the mess that is college basketball takes imagination. Fueled by money first from shoe companies, agents, handlers and coaches lavished benefits upon recruits. Benefits that were usually impermissible under NCAA rules. For the most part, the NCAA did little or nothing.
All that changed when the FBI got involved three years ago. Many college basketball fans were disappointed in the results of the FBI investigation. There were arrests and convictions, but the majority of those charged took plea deals. Eighteen months ago, si.com listed the results, summarized below.
Four Power 5 assistant coaches, including former Auburn assistant, Check Person took plea deals. Another was Arizona assistant, Book Richardson who claimed he was going broke because he was paying recruits out of his own pocket.
• Low-level hustler: Christian Dawkins, a runner for agent Andy Miller was convicted of bribery for paying assistant coaches to influence players with regard to their agent selection. He was also convicted of fraud.
• Former Adidas, shoe company executive, Jim Gatto was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
• Former Adidas consultant Merl Code was convicted of wire fraud.
• Financial advisor, Munish Sood took a plea deal that included three felonies and testified against others charged.
• Atlanta clothier, Rashan Michel copped a plea deal for his role in helping arrange bribes.
Florida-based AAU coach, Brad Augustine was arrested, but charges were dropped because he kept any money intended for players and their families for himself.
What about Sean Miller, Will Wade, Bruce Pearl, Mark Gottfried, Bill Self and others? NCAA investigations are ongoing. NCAA Enforcement gained considerable information through the FBI’s work. It is the job of the NCAA, and not the FBI, to punish violators of NCAA rules.
Though the NCCA process is painfully slow, it is hard to imagine Miller, Wade and Pearl escaping NCAA punishment. Auburn is trying to minimize, what it appears they know, will be strong penalties. On Sunday, Auburn announced a self-imposed 2020-21 season, post-season ban.
A few months ago, the NCAA gave Oklahoma State a three-year probation, with multiple categories of punishment, including a 2020-21 post-season ban.
The HBO documentary, The Scheme, featuring Christian Dawkins provided extensive background into the actions of Sean Miller and Will Wade.
As we discussed a couple of days ago, the Alabama basketball program was also given a three-year probation by the NCAA. The Tide’s violations were made by a former staffer, with no former or current member of the Alabama basketball, coaching staff involved. Fortunately, there will be no scholarship impact and no ban on post-season play.
In the back of their minds, Sean Miller, Will Wade and others must hear a ticking clock. A never silent reminder they are under an NCAA microscope.