NCAA Basketball Indictments Say: Alumni Booster, Thy Home Might be the Federal Pen

The college basketball indictments have taken a new turn: more specific allegations about payments by some college coaches to players have been added to the previous charges that Adidas had colluded with agents and financial advisors to insure that players might attend specific schools, with the expectation that those players (advancing toward what would, presumably, be lucrative careers), would later also sign on with the agents or financial advisors.

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The indictments last fall, and the new ones, have changed the entire NCAA enforcement paradigm, though you’d never know by listening to the NCAA. They don’t even know it. They are paralyzed. Yes, NCAA executive director has set up the ‘blue ribbon’ Condi Commission, chaired by Condoleeza Rice. But all of NCAA has, like some misbehaving schoolchild, gone into ‘time-out,’ in several respects. First, Emmert insists that no investigations concerning all these allegations can be undertaken by the NCAA, while the U.S. Attorney, and the FBI, complete their work. This is nonsense, for two reasons. First, the standard of proof for NCAA violations — preponderance of the evidence — is tiny and easy compared to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in the criminal setting. Second, the NCAA, dependent as it is upon self-reporting, also depends heavily upon what are called ‘interim’ or ‘provisional’ orders, imposed either by the NCAA or, oftentimes, the school itself. This practice is built upon the high-minded NCAA notion that its games, and participants, must always be lily-white and without any hint of taint — even if that requires provisionally suspended participants who have only been charged with some violation. Countless players have been, as a result, “held out” of games, in order to preserve their purity.

But the NCAA has refused to investigate any of the circumstances arising out of the recent indictments; as a result, it has also failed to take any minimal steps to determine the foundation for, and then act upon, the need for such provisional suspensions of involved coaches, schools, and even players.

And even though the NCAA and all their member-school compliance operations spend significant resources to alert and scold their constituency about the need to avoid any possible violation of any NCAA rules, they have failed to alert those constituencies about the game-changing nature of the 2017 and 2018 federal indictments: that the violation of NCAA ‘extra-benefits’ legislation is now, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a solid, ripe basis for federal criminal charges.

For a simple example of this new, serious federal criminal peril which any potential booster might encounter, look only at the 2017 NCAA heavy penalties for Ole Miss, associated with an number of different violations, many generated by boosters providing ‘extra,’ proscribed benefits to athletes. Because the statute of limitations on those actions have not yet run, every single one of those booster violations, well-documented by the NCAA COI, are open, obvious, potential federal criminal statute violations, based upon the premise behind the recent indictments. Illegal boosters always had reason to fear the NCAA enforcement arm; now, all those boosters, over the last five years, ought be worrying about federal indictments related to those same underlying NCAA violations.

Alumni booster, thy home might be the federal pen.

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AD’s, Paid Like Egyptian Pharoahs, Plan Sunny Pow-Wow to Figure How to Save Empire

These AD’s are out of control. They’ve announced, as they call it, a “sunny” pow-wow, “by AD’s, for AD’s,” of what they grandly call a “Collegiate Sports Summit,” to take place April 16-17, at the Fairmount Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica.

The headliners are (among others) Penn State’s Barbour, UNC’s Cunningham, Notre Dame’s Swarbrick, and UDub’s Jennifer Cohen.

Why is this so ‘Private?

The first question: why is this at all necessary, and who is paying for it? Don’t these same ostensible leaders of college sports have their very own trade group, answerable to nobody, to promote their own interests, which is called LEAD1. And isn’t LEAD1 fabulously funded by corporate interests (DHR International, ESPN, EverFi, Private Jet Services, VitoVio, Paciolan (a Learfield Co.), Fiesta Bowl, Learfield, MintzLevin, Tailgate Guys, Viscis, Nike, MG12, Anthony Travel, GoGround, Sidearm Sports (Div of Learfield)?

And if they do, why is this confab — described as “your private, invitation-only gathering, designed by ADs, for ADs, [as] your chance to connect with peers, get up-to-speed on the hottest trends and tackle today’s top challenges in a transparent, forthright forum” — at all necessary? Aren’t most of these people of considerable self-importance actually public employees? If so, why the emphasis on a “private, invitation-only gathering”? Wasn’t that what their own ‘private’ LEAD1 trade group was all about when it met in September, with its Washington lobbyist?

Who is Paying for All This?

Second: who is paying for this? Are not all athletic departments starving for cash, having to spend on all the many things which these AD’s deem necessary? And aren’t these AD’s all shelling out big buck to pay for a big-number ex-Congressman like Tom McMillen to serve as their very own K-Street lobbyist?

This ‘Private’ Confab Needs Ten College BKB and FB Players

What’s up with this meeting?  And could it not benefit substantially from the presence of ten big-time college football and basketball players, who can give these wise men and women some input, as they deliberate about a fate which will impact, most primarily and directly, upon those extraordinarily valuable football and basketball player-assets?

This is a question for all those “leaders” who are members of LEAD1: why do you need another warm-weather pow-wow?  Weren’t you just in D.C., in an effort to gather to influence legislators, on behalf of only your own personal financial interests, in September? What possibly could warrant the $5-10 grand per AD AD cost? And are you convinced that only you can provide competent answers to the questions which now plague college sports?

 

 

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This is the Ryan Shazier Super Bowl: Put Your Hand on Your Heart

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I’m troubled about the Super Bowl tomorrow. Yes, the Pats remind me of the old Larry Bird Boston Celtics era, when you left the game, or the broadcast, wanting to thank the sports gods that you have been allowed to watch something so elegantly executed.

But any thoughts about the potential beauty and perfection of this Super Bowl game and its players have vanished over the week, because I keep thinking about Ryan Shazier, the electric Steelers (and formerly OSU) linebacker, who went down this season with a savage injury. Continue reading

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What MSU and Other AD’s Must Do Now: Nassar Victims’ Car-Wreck Was Avoidable, if AD Hollis Had Installed PSU Seatbelts

Unsafe at Any Speed

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Former MSU AD Mark Hollis

MSU and all other big-time schools are in crisis; on a triage basis, here’s the one thing they all must immediately do: Install the Penn State “Integrity Program.”

Ralph Nader’s 1960 book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’: a) showed that many horrible injuries suffered by car passengers could easily be prevented; b) suggested significant changes in the way Americans use – and control – the automobile; c) triggered, within a few years, all cars to be equipped with seatbelts and other safety-related design changes.

The 2011 Penn State Sandusky pedophilia scandal similarly:

a) showed a nation the horrible sexual assault injuries which could be inflicted upon minors by one pedophile, in concert with an out-of-control athletic department and university, too eager to bury events which might affect its quest for wins and profit;

b) suggested, with its post-Sandusky investigations and reports, some basic changes in athletic and university operations which would help avoid future needless injuries; and

c) triggered, within a year, the 2012 basic “Athletics Integrity Agreement” signed by PSU, the NCAA, and the Big Ten, which – in order to comply with NCAA and Big Ten constitutions and bylaws, and “principles regarding institutional control, responsibility, ethical conduct, and integrity” – required PSU to install an abuse-preventing “Seatbelt” called the “Integrity Program.” Continue reading

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The Real Culprit is Not MSU’s Simon; It’s AD Hollis. Simon took the fall for Hollis, Who’s in Hiding

There they are. The words that inspire anything but confidence: “The NCAA opens investigation of MSU.”

You are a Power 5 athletic director, and you have no idea what to do. You sense that perhaps the lesson out of Penn State Sandusky scandal was that, if a school covers up pedophilia, then it will cover up anything, including the more prosaic NCAA regulations. But you don’t really have a clue.

And you might sense the truth, which is that the handling of the MSU Larry Nassar Scandal has been so fundamentally ham-handed as to allow the plaintiffs to multiply — no, exponentially multiply — the value of their cases against MSU. The value of that case, two weeks ago was X; now that value is 10x.  Good job Prez Simon, and AD Hollis.
But you’re not really sure.

Continue reading

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MSU Coaches & Board are — Today — a Real and Present Danger to Current Student Athletes

A 15-year old, named Emma Ann Miller, showed up in court today, talking wisdom to all the wacko MSU adults involved, including MSU President Simon and AD Hollis — and Dr. Nasser.

Miller told, according to tweets by WLNS reporter Alexandra Illitch, of being bent over in the supply room, with a doctor putting his ungloved hands in her private area.

“Are you listening MSU?

“Are you listening MSU?,” Miller said. “I can’t hear you.”

This was, ostensibly medical care. In a supply room.

“You need to confess the facts”

“You need to confess the facts,” Miller concluded, as if an angel sent to get Nasser and MSU to recognize their sins. “You can help others, and if you do, if you help my sisters, it

might help with your forgiveness.”izzoII

She might have been prompted by the bizarre statements made by MSU coaches over the weekend. Basketball coach Tom Izzo, and football coach Mark D’Antonio (both of whom I have previously admired, for their plain-spokenness, and lack of airs), solemnly declared that they had “the utmost faith” in MSU President Simon. Continue reading

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MSU AD Hollis Must Come Clean: Nasser Scandal is a PSU Re-Run, Because Hollis Ignored the PSU ‘Integrity’ and Mitchell Reports

The testimony has been heart-breaking: all these girls, many now women, recounting the shame of their childhoods, the assaults by a monster.

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MSU AD Mark Hollis

But I felt like I was watching, in some fashion, re-runs. Penn State went through much of this. PSU allowed their iconic coach Joe Paterno to bury, for two decades, what he knew about pedophilia. Continue reading

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Notice to Every Auburn BKB Player and Recruit: Run, as Fast as You Can, From Auburn

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has just announced that he will not cooperate with any NCAA investigation. He has a contractual duty to cooperate.

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In addition, the ‘vicarious liability’ principle embraced by the NCAA 2 years ago establishes that the head coach is presumed responsible for any violations committed by his assistants. (Pearl’s assistant Chuck Person has been indicted for conspiracy and fraud.) If Pearl will not cooperate, then there will be no evidence to rebut the preumption that Pearl has violated NCAA bylaws.

Pearl has previously been seriously sanctioned by the NCAA, for his recruiting violations at Tennessee, and was the subject of an NCAA show-cause order after those transgressions. Continue reading

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NLI Signing: Two Written Questions Every D-1 Basketball Recruit Should Get Answered First

Today is the start of the NLI signing period. This is not a normal signing period in D-I basketball, because of the recent indictments of assistant coaches, agents, financial advisors, and Adidas marketers.

Things may be very different by the time you enroll next fall. Many more indictments may issue. Many coaches may resign or be fired. Many new ‘scandals’ may be exposed, at many other schools. The men indicted so far know alot, and are talking to the feds. The school, program, coach, or team you think you are signing up with may be very different next fall, and you may be looking to get released from the NLI you sign this November.

Two Questions for Each Coach, in Writing

Before you sign the NLI, insist that any coach who recruits you, including assistants or head coaches (each of them), respond to these two questions, in writing (by email):

ONE: are you aware of any significant violations of NCAA legislation involving your basketball program? If so, list them.

TWO: Have you reported through the appropriate individuals on your campus to your chancellor/president any knowledge of violations of NCAA legislation involving your institution?

[The second question is lifted from Form 17-2, shown below, which all D-II and DIII coaches have to sign every year, and which D-I coaches had to sign — until the requirement was removed on 8/1/17.]

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You deserve to know these things, in writing, before you sign. (If a coach will not answer these questions, that is a red flag that you should not commit to the school.) And if things later blow up at the school, based upon some NCAA violations which the coach knew about and failed to disclose in his answers, you have a much stronger case for being released from the NLI.

Big-time college basketball may be in the process of blowing itself up. Protect yourself with these two simple written questions.

 

 

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The College Basketball Indictments: NCAA Doing ‘As Little as Possible’

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In the movie Chinatown, Jake Gittis, private eye and former police detective in Chinatown, is in bed with Evelyn Mulwray, who asks him, “What did you do when you worked on the police force?” Gittis’ answer?

“As little as possible”.

In response to the recent college basketball indictments, Mark Emmert and the NCAA have done “as little as possible.” Sure, Emmert’s appointed a committee, with some big names which have generated flash. Sure, they’ve asked D-1 programs to ‘review’ their programs to insure compliance is up to speed. Otherwise the NCAA is doing a whole lot of looking the other way. A giant dodge.

On-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement — just like 911

Ask Nerlens Noel, or Ryan Boatwright about the NCAA ‘looking the other way.’ Both basketball players were high school seniors over the past decade, who the NCAA somehow suspected were receiving some benefit which should disqualify them as ‘amateurs’. As a result, the NCAA sent investigators out in “the field”: home visits, lengthy interviews with all manner of characters, asking outrageous questions of unwitting relatives and friends – private citizens — all of them un-lawyered, and most of whom wrongly assumed that the NCAA was some kind of law enforcement, and all of them unaware that they should tell the NCAA gumshoe-bullies to go suck a lemon. This was NCAA robust, pulsating, on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement, with 911-like alacrity – to trammel-down those private-citizen 18 or 19-year-olds. Was the NCAA then doing ‘as little as possible’ to investigate alleged wrongdoing?

Or ask OSU’s former head coach Jim Tressel, who worked a fraud on the NCAA for almost a year, by disclaiming any knowledge of ‘eligibility-threatening’ trinket sales (horrors!) by his players.There had been much discussion, hand-wringing even, as OSU and the NCAA (and Tressel!) all seriously conferred about whether malefactors Terrelle Pryor and five teammate should be allowed to play in OSU’s January 2011 bowl game. (They were, though the players were required to serve a 5-game suspension the following season – and OSU immediately, in late December, filed an appeal of that decision.)

But when OSU found, ten days after that bowl game, a string of Tressel emails over the previous year, which strongly suggested that Tressel had been lying, the school forwarded those emails to the NCAA on the first Friday in February. What happened? The NCAA gumshoes were on-campus at OSU that Monday. The next business dayOn-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site enforcement, just like 911.

Basically, Nuthin’

But when the feds announced in late September 2017 their indictments of four college coaches, some agents and financial ‘advisors,’ and a couple of Adidas ‘sales’ people, what did the NCAA do?

Basically, nuthin.

You would think that those same NCAA gumshoes who glommed all over Boatwright and Noel, or who jumped right on OSU and Tressel, would have been on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site at Auburn, USC, Oklahoma State, Arizona, and Louisville, with that good-ole NCAA alacrity.

Nope. NCAA, As Little As Possible.

Wait. But did someone claim it all has to be put on hold while a criminal investigation unfolds? Well, that can’t explain it. After all, when the NCAA swooped in on OSU in 2010 and 2011, there was a pending federal investigation. And civil and criminal – and yes, even NCAA – investigations can, and often are, concurrent, if only because the civil (and, presumably, NCAA) standard of proof – a preponderance – is so much easier to satisfy than the criminal ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard. In addition, the NCAA loves intermediate remedies, imposed to preclude continuing harm or wrongdoing — just ask the two Auburn players who just got suspended using that very rationale.

Moreover, Louisville has had an appeal pending (just as OSU had an appeal pending) of the NCAA decision rendered in June 2017 – a decision which refused to apply the NCAA’s ‘vicarious liability’ standard to strictly impute the ‘stripper violations’ to head coach Rick Pitino, and also refused to find that Pitino’s claimed ignorance of the violations was not credible. The facts alleged in the September indictments (many of which are, on their face, highly reliable, since they derive from tapped conversations, or accounts from a ‘state’s evidence’ witness) provide a thumping suggestion that: 1) Pitino’s involvement in all the events was significant; 2) those events unfolded prior to the time the NCAA rendered its June 2017 Louisville decision; and 3) there are many more reasons to doubt Pitino’s  credibility — which was the central issue in the NCAA case decided in June! At a minimum, haven’t the new indictments generated sufficient new evidence suggesting that the NCAA must immediately re-open that case? Is it not time for the NCAA to get on-the-plane, in-the-field, and on-site, to Louisville?

An Immediate Baby-Step for NCAA Enforcement

Finally, let’s compare the ‘scorched earth’ NCAA investigations of Nerlens Noel and Ryan Boatright with the easy, simple, and cheap baby-step which Mark Emmert and his suddenly mute and paralyzed enforcement-goons could immediately take to minimally “investigate” some of the disturbing allegations in the indictments: require that every coach immediately file a signed affidavit which includes this statement:

By signing and dating this form, you certify that you have reported through the appropriate individuals on your campus to your chancellor/president any knowledge of violations of NCAA legislation involving your institution”

[This is the very language which Jim Tressel signed-onto in September 2010, which the NCAA later used to show that Tressel was “not credible” and had “purposely hid” evidence. It is Form 16-2 language, but the NCAA-Chinatown coaches and administrators acted on April 26, 2017 (six days after Rick Pitino testified before the NCAA) to eliminate Form 16-2, effective August 1, 2017. The coaches and administrators apparently wanted to do “as little as possible” with regard to reporting violations, within an NCAA system which touts its heavy reliance upon self-reporting.]

To mandate that every coach file such an affidavit by the end of today would impose almost no burden on anyone. It requires no commission, no meetings, no manpower, no outlay. No on-the-plane, in-the-field, on-site investigations. Simple. Pretty close to As Little As Possible.

Emmert won’t do it. Neither will the NCAA.

A Giant Step for University Presidents and Athletic Directors

It is the end of the movie Chinatown, after the wreckage of events results in the shooting death of Evelyn Mulwray, at the hand of a police detective. And PI Gittis, who unwittingly got drawn into events to try to save Evelyn and her daughter/sister, is heard to utter, almost inaudibly, “as little as possible.” To which the detective responds, “Forget about it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

This story about the new college basketball indictments, though, has a different coda. Mark Emmert and his NCAA will continue to do as little as possible, and will not re-impose the coach duty to sign Form 16-2.

But if you are a Power 5 university president or athletic director, justifiably worried a tad about some criminal (or NCAA violation) liability putting you in personal or professional jeopardy, you shouldn’t just forget about it.  Your ass is on the line.

 Here’s a suggestion: immediately demand that every basketball and football coach fill out a signed affidavit which includes the above Form 16-2 “any knowledge of violations’ language. (If he refuses, well, that tells you a whole lot, and is probably grounds for employment sanction.) It’s a tiny form, but a giant step. Make the coach commit. Don’t ‘forget about it.” Don’t do “as little as possible. Draw a line, which separates you from Chinatown, now. Get affidavits from every coach, because we’ve not seen the last of the indictments. 

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