The FBI says Brian Bowen is clear of all the “investigative impediments" that had previously prevented U of L from reviewing the freshman’s eligibility. The school is now free to investigate whether or not Bowen might be eligible to play in the 2017-18 season on its own.
This all according to Bowen’s attorney, Jason Setchen, who spoke with the Courier Journal on Thursday.
A sworn deposition by the FBI’s John Vourderis described an intercepted call between sports agent Christian Dawkins and a man Vourderis believed to be Bowen Sr., arranging a payment of $19,500 on July 13. A subsequent call between Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood indicated the payment was made.
“Brian (Jr.) was not aware of any of the alleged activities,” Setchen said, “and it is our position that he has not violated any NCAA rules or bylaws. ... It’s a fundamental aspect of being an American that we are not held responsible for the actions of other people and we have a right to associate. It is unfair to Brian or any student-athlete to try and punish them for actions of others who are not in their control.”
Setchen’s argument echoes that used on behalf of Cam Newton, who led Auburn to the 2010 BCS championship after allegations that his father had solicited the quarterback’s services to Mississippi State for $180,000. The NCAA subsequently revised its rules to designate parents as agents if they represent or attempt to represent an athlete “for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain.”
To be clear, this isn’t the FBI saying there was no wrongdoing here. It’s simply saying that it has wrapped up its look into the Bowen situation, and then U of L can now conduct its own investigation without any fear of getting in the way of the FBI or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
While the chances of Bowen not playing for Louisville this season still seem larger than the chances of him suiting up for the Cards, the fact that this is even possible at all is noteworthy.
Stuart Brown, an Atlanta-based attorney experienced with eligibility issues, said it is not the NCAA’s policy to punish athletes for their relatives' actions and predicted that Bowen was likely to gain reinstatement based on the evidence that has surfaced so far.
“I would suspect the young man would get reinstated with some repayment and community service stipulations and some meaningful withholding (from competition), but certainly not a whole season,” Brown said. “That’s presuming that the institution decides that a violation occurred.
“... I’d be very surprised if there were permanent ineligibility.”
For what it’s worth, I’m 100 percent behind Bowen playing and this being the “two middle fingers in the air” season. Again, it’s unlikely that this happens, but why not? Because the NCAA might take something away from us while letting more esteemed universities get away with two decades of even uglier transgressions? That’s not a real solid deterrent for me anymore.
In all seriousness, I hope this all turns out for the best for Brian. He’s a kid who stood to make a great deal of money playing basketball regardless of where he went to college, and he doesn’t deserve to have that jeopardized because of a corrupt system and the actions of a few adults.