World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa addresses everything you need to know regarding the college basketball corruption case.
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What’s the latest?
Aspiring agent Christian Dawkins and former Adidas employee Merl Code are facing bribery charges. Two years ago, Dawkins planned to start a sports agency. He needed clients. So, according to a federal indictment, he and Code started bribing assistants in exchange for influence over college players. The trial starts Monday in New York City.
What’s the difference between this case and the first one?
The first college basketball corruption trial was in October. Dawkins, Code and Adidas executive Jim Gatto were convicted of fraud. They schemed to secretly funnel Adidas money to recruits’ families in hopes that the top-tier players would attend Adidas-sponsored colleges then agree to endorsement deals with the company upon turning pro.
How is Creighton involved?
Dawkins has known CU assistant Preston Murphy for a long time. They’re from the same hometown, Saginaw, Michigan. As early as 2015, Dawkins began managing the recruitment of 2017 prospect Brian Bowen — also from Saginaw. Creighton, led by Murphy, recruited Bowen for two years. But Bowen picked Louisville — and his family was promised $100,000 for that commitment.
Did Creighton break NCAA rules?
CU’s internal investigations haven’t unveiled any violations. But Bowen’s dad claimed in court that the Jays offered the family $100,000 and a job if Bowen committed to Creighton. A federal indictment also accused Murphy of receiving a $6,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent during a 2017 meeting with Dawkins.
How many assistant coaches are implicated?
Three — Arizona’s Book Richardson, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland — have pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiring to commit bribery. They were all fired soon after the initial indictment was released. TCU assistant Corey Barker hasn’t been charged with a crime, but was reportedly fired. In a separate case, former Auburn assistant Chuck Person pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy charge.
If federal authorities have accused Murphy of receiving a bribe, why hasn’t he been charged?
That’s unclear. Here are three theories: 1.) It could be that the government lacks enough solid evidence. Legal analyst Alicia Jessop, a sports law professor at Pepperdine not involved with the trial, theorized that the Department of Justice might have had a stronger case against the coaches it charged with a crime than those (like Murphy) who weren’t charged. Prosecutors don’t want to have any potential holes in a high-profile case like this, Jessop said. 2.) Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney, argued in an interview with Yahoo Sports that this is an instance of “selective prosecution” by the government. Haney said prosecutors essentially were “flipping a coin” when they decided who to charge. 3.) The undercover FBI agent — the one who gave the $6,000 bribe to Murphy during that 2017 meeting — is under investigation for misuse of government funds, according to court documents. The defense team stated in a court filing this week that prosecutors have “actively obstructed the defendants’ attempts to subpoena” the undercover agent. So perhaps that factored in.
But that shouldn’t impact the NCAA’s inquiry, right?
Theoretically, no. All the NCAA needs is a credible accusation to open its own investigation. And after a recent rule change, its enforcement team can now use evidence gathered by other entities like the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But the NCAA claims to be stuck in a metaphorical waiting room. More information will be revealed during this trial. Plus, NCAA President Mark Emmert confirmed earlier this month that the organization is petitioning the government to gain access to evidence not presented in court. Said Emmert: “We still don’t have all the information that we would like to have from those trials.”
How much evidence does the FBI have?
A lot. It opened its probe into college basketball in 2015. For two years, the FBI was tapping phones, tracking financial records, planting informants, conducting sting operations and turning witnesses.
Which college basketball programs have been implicated?
Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Miami, NC State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas and USC. A proposed payment plan emailed by Dawkins (released by ESPN) implicated additional schools: Cincinnati, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Xavier. And an expense report from Dawkins (released by Yahoo) added these schools to the list: Clemson, Maryland, Seton Hall, Utah, Washington and Wichita State. Also, Cal State Northridge, DePaul, La Salle and UNC Asheville employ coaches who’ve been named or referenced in the cases.
What’s next for Creighton?
Murphy, currently suspended, could be fired. Creighton could face penalties from the NCAA. It’s possible that this trial will provide more details on the Murphy-Dawkins relationship, and Creighton’s involvement in the scandal. It’s possible, too, that CU coaches could be called to the witness stand — LSU’s Will Wade and Arizona’s Sean Miller have reportedly been informed that they will be subpoenaed. But the government asked the court last week to consider excluding testimony from college coaches in this case. The judge is expected to submit his ruling Friday on that motion.
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