If Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz was hoping that we would stop talking about his broken jumper (and psyche), I think, and this is just a hunch, that he’s about to get his wish–for a day. Maybe.
An explosive(!) report dropped this morning by Yahoo! Sports cites hundreds of pages of FBI documents in detailing wide-ranging potential rules violations committed by some of college basketball’s biggest names and programs.
The report focuses on the dealings of former NBA agent Andy Miller, his ex-associate Christian Dawkins, and the ASM Sports Agency. The documents reveal what could be a major headache for up to 20 NCAA programs and up to 25 current and former players, which allege that ASM worked with programs and players to get them to sign with the agency. Among the players reported to have taken money? That’s right—you guessed it. Markelle Fultz. The top pick of the 2017 NBA Draft reportedly received $10,000 from ASM, but didn’t go on to sign with the agency. Boss move.
Other notable players accused of taking money who appear in the report include Dennis Smith Jr. ($73,500), Isaiah Whitehead ($37,657), and Kyle Kuzma ($9,500).
Also of local interest is this line, which I’m sure will become quite the story around here:
According to the documents, Dawkins has dinners listed with plenty of boldface names in the sport – Tom Izzo, ‘Villanova coaches,’ Fultz and the family of wayward five-star prospect Mitchell Robinson.
Villanova coaches. Kyle, our fearless leader, briefly emerged from his bottomless pit of high-quality and reasonably priced t-shirts to offer comment:
I don’t blame Markelle Fultz or any other high school or college kid for taking money from an agent. The scandal part of this is how colleges use these outside funds to attract and pay students. Unlike the Louisville case, which included coaches bribing students to play for Louisville and taking kickback money, this Yahoo! piece is focused almost entirely on an agency paying players with the goal of retaining them as clients when they go pro. The fact that they did it was so many players, for so many schools, shows that this wasn’t about any one program’s involvement. As it relates to Villanova, Jay Wright or any other college coach is allowed to meet with agents. They do this ALL THE TIME. Hell, Jay has said in interviews that they do the best they can for graduating players to set them up for professional basketball. Just because an agent met with “Villanova coaches” or any other program does not indicate that program did literally anything wrong. Is it possible some schools had involvement in funneling money to athletes? Sure. But I bet those cases are the exception, not the rule. I would suspect that Kyle Lowry taking $10k from an agent was well outside official Villanova coaching channels. A lot of names in here, but simply because an athlete went to a school, and an agent happened to, at some point, have dinner with that coach, doesn’t mean the two are connected in any way.
And just like that, he’s gone again. From my perspective, to make sweeping assessments is, at this point, unfair. Stories like this drop a bunch of names and juicy allegations, but lack context. Still, the story isn’t great, and it’s completely unsurprising. You mean to tell me that big-time college basketball isn’t about lacing ‘em up for the old “U” and making your campus proud—that it’s actually about…money? Get the fuck out of here! You don’t say? I hate to say that I’ve become desensitized to corruption in college athletics, but from SMU to Ed Martin at Michigan to Nevin Shapiro at Miami to the most recent disaster at Louisville, we’ve long known that the NCAA is shamefully inept and college athletics are often a cesspool.
Here’s NCAA President Mark Emmert on the latest shit show he’s presided over:
These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.
People who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports? That’s not true. They drive college sports. They’ve long had a place and unless the NCAA tears it all down and re-evaluates its broken and often illogical system that’s governed by archaic rules, these types of stories will continue to periodically break. Are they an affront to all those who play by the rules? Maybe—there are shades of gray. But in light of this report, at this point, it’s fair to wonder how many of those people are even left.