The FBI probe into college basketball is back in the news.
Tuesday night, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the filing of a superseding indictment against Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code, as well as aspiring agent Christian Dawkins. The indictment explicitly names Louisville, Miami, NC State and Kansas.
So what does this all mean? Let’s break it down.
What is a “superseding indictment” and why has one been filed?
The superseding indictment is essentially taking the place of the original indictment that the FBI filed back in September. This was necessary because the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had to drop its charges from the original indictment against Brad Augustine after it was revealed that Augustine kept the money he was given to then pass on to the parents/guardians of players.
You can read the entire new indictment here.
What does the new indictment allege?
The big thing here is still that adidas, Jim Gatto and company worked to make payments to six players to convince them to attend four adidas schools — Kansas, NC State, Miami and Louisville. Some of the payments were made directly to parents/guardians, and others were made under the guise of funding a player’s AAU team.
Ok so is there anything new here as far as Louisville’s concerned?
No. The details in the sections pertaining to both Louisville and Miami are both simply recycling old charges and justifying them with details and accusations we already knew.
Who are the players involved?
For Louisville, there’s obviously Brian Bowen. There’s also Balsa Koprivica, the class of 2019 player adidas was reportedly trying to steer towards U of L.
For NC State, the player in question is pretty obviously Dennis Smith Jr. For Kansas, the dates involved appear to indicate that Silvio De Sousa is one of the players in question, and the other player appears to be Billy Preston, who left the program in the middle of the season while the NCAA was looking into the funding behind a car he had been driving. De Sousa joined Kansas for the second semester of last season and played throughout the Jayhawks’ run to the Final Four.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo had originally reported that Josh Jackson was one of the players in question, but the dates of his recruitment don’t match up with the dates of the indictment. For Miami, the player in question is recruit Nassir Little, who wound up signing with North Carolina and will be eligible to play in 2018-19.
What’s different about this indictment compared to the last one?
As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing new here as far as Louisville or Miami are concerned. The biggest difference is simply that Kansas and NC State are now named. Both were included in Yahoo’s “bombshell” report back in February, but neither were mentioned in the FBI’s original indictment.
Also, the attorney who filed the indictment, Robert S. Khuzami, is new. He was hired as the new Deputy U.S. Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 5.
Khuzami made it clear on Tuesday that the new indictment included “no new recordings, wires, or applications.”
Remember when NC State fans chanted “FBI” during the Louisville-NC State football game?
So are these four schools being charged with anything?
Quite the opposite. Fraud is a crime that requires a victim, and the FBI is alleging that Gatto and company defrauded these four schools by paying players behind closed doors, thus making the players ineligible and putting the schools at risk of committing NCAA violations.
This is why the fraud charges against Augustine had to be dropped: If he never actually paid the players and made them ineligible, then he never put any institution in jeopardy of facing NCAA punishments.
So if Louisville didn’t play Bowen, then they shouldn’t be in any NCAA trouble, right?
Not necessarily. The difference between Louisville’s situation and, say, Kansas’ is that U of L coaches are named (not directly, of course). Jordan Fair is accused of being in the room with adidas executives when they discussed paying Bowen’s family, and the parts from the original indictment about Rick Pitino calling Jim Gatto are still included in the superseding indictment. (In the NC State section, for what it’s worth, “one or more coaches” are accused of being involved in the payments to Smith. That’s an issue.)
If Pitino’s story about what went down — that Fair walked out of the room the moment he saw cash in an envelope, that his own calls to Gatto were about Terry Rozier’s relationship with adidas, and that Christian Dawkins was exaggerating his relationships with Pitino and Larranaga to look cool -- is accurate, then yeah, Louisville would seem to be in good shape to escape NCAA punishment. Bowen was immediately disassociated from the program and transferred to South Carolina without participating in so much as a Cardinal practice, so Louisville never played an ineligible player.
The issue is going to be the he said/he said/he said between Dawkins and (potentially) Gatto and Pitino and Fair. The other interesting part of this is that if all the key players in this (Pitino, Fair, Bowen, Kenny Johnson) are out of college basketball by the time the NCAA actually looks into this thing, they won’t be under any obligation to cooperate. Based on Pitino’s consistent comments over the last five months, it’s a safer bet than you might think that he’ll be forthcoming with the NCAA when or if the time comes, if only because doing so might reveal once and for all that he knew nothing about the payments to Bowen. The only thing that might prevent that is his recent history with both the governing body and with U of L.
Is it a little weird that Miami gave Jim Larranaga a contract extension on this very day?
And how did Mark Gottfried just get hired as the new head coach at Cal State Northridge?
I know, it’s f—-ed up, right? He also hired Jim Harrick as an assistant. Wild.
What happens now?
Who the hell knows. There had been some buzz that maybe this whole thing would fizzle out after the charges against Augustine had to be dropped. The FBI made it clear today that this isn’t the case. In fact, they made it a point to state in their press release that the investigation is “ongoing,” and that anyone with information should contact them immediately.