After declining a request for comment prior to the story’s publication, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a press release following the report from Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde and Pete Thamel that detailed potential rules violations for 20 Division I basketball programs and more than 25 players.
Emmert labeled the allegations as a threat to college sports and called for “systematic” changes.
Here is the NCAA president’s full statement:
“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. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”
The Yahoo report included documents from former NBA agent Andy Miller, associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports, seized as part of a federal investigation. The documents featured detailed accounts of cash advances and benefits allegedly paid to prep and college basketball prospects past and present, as well as their families, including recent NBA lottery picks Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr. and Bam Adebayo and potential first-round picks Wendell Carter, Collin Sexton and Miles Bridges.
The potential rules violations involve players at many of the country’s top college basketball programs, including Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina. Disciplinary measures could be widespread following investigations both criminal and internal from the NCAA and its universities.
Four assistant coaches have been arrested as part of the investigation. Six others have been arrested, too, including a pair of Adidas executives. Likewise, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have been removed from their posts. Two Auburn players have also been suspended, and USC point guard De’Anthony Melton has withdrawn from school amid reported ties to the scandal.
The NCAA formed a commission on college basketball led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this past October, and Emmert said at the NCAA convention in January that the commission would make formal recommendations on reform in April that could be enacted for the 2018-19 season.
There are real questions, though, about what real change can bring the underbelly to the surface beyond paying players whose likeness the NCAA profits from immensely. So far, at least, Emmert has resisted that effort, because, well, “traditions and keeping them are very important to universities.”
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