Financial records, documents and wiretaps tied to prominent former NBA agent Andy Miller and featuring his former associate, Christian Dawkins, have provided a detailed window for authorities into how the college basketball underworld operated, sources with knowledge of the ongoing federal investigation have told Yahoo Sports in recent days.
Sources familiar with the probe told Yahoo Sports that there’s a surprising level of specificity in the documents, bank records and wiretaps involving Miller’s business. They include exact dollar figures and intricate documentation of payments to the families of college players. There are also conversations brokering deals between Dawkins and the clients he was recruiting.
“There are spreadsheets detailing who got paid, how much they got paid and how much more they were planning to pay,” said a source familiar with the investigation. “The feds got everything they wanted and much more. Don’t think it will only be players who ended up signing with ASM that got paid. Those spreadsheets cast a wide net throughout college basketball. If your school produced a first-round pick in the past three years, be worried.”
According to the sources, the financial records from Miller and wiretap conversations featuring Dawkins illuminate the blatant nature of deal-making to land top talent well before the players turn professional. Those deals could threaten the current eligibility of players because of NCAA amateurism rules and retroactively put in peril the contests participated in by those players. Sources said this includes numerous prominent players in the upcoming NCAA tournament, the showcase of college basketball. “It’s all there,” said a different source familiar with the investigation.
Nearly five months have passed since a swarm of police cars and unmarked government vehicles descended on the New Jersey office of ASM Sports, where Miller is the founder and president. They raided the office on the morning of Sept. 26, timed to coincide with 10 arrests being made in the sweeping federal corruption probe that’s reverberated through every level of basketball. With the federal investigation ongoing and trial dates set in three separate criminal cases over the next 14 months, that raid and the information obtained from Miller and his office portends to be some of the most explosive and damaging for the sport of college basketball. While no one is certain how many more charges or arrests there could be in the case, the information collected in discovery and sealed by a protective order looms large over the collegiate landscape.
The detailed information also brings into focus the operation of Miller, who has a long history of contentious business relationships, legal squabbles and running afoul with the NCAA. With Miller tied to so many facets of the investigation, some have questioned why he hasn’t been directly charged or implicated.
One lawyer in the case, Steve Haney, refused to confirm any of the above details that Yahoo Sports is reporting. Haney, who represents Christian Dawkins, did send a statement by email. “Charging Christian Dawkins with alleged Federal crimes while his bosses at ASM run free is as categorically egregious as charging all the assistant coaches while their bosses are steaming towards the glory and riches of the NCAA tournament,” Haney wrote. “It is utter hypocrisy how these defendants somehow stand accused, while holding the bag and taking the fall for their superiors, who would have been the primary financial benefactors of any supposed scheme.”
That lack of charges has, in turn, generated a belief among those following the case that Miller is cooperating with authorities. The possibility of Miller serving as a cooperating witness for the government would reverberate through college sports, as he held strong relationships with a number of prominent coaches on the college and AAU levels, and recruited dozens of players as clients over the years. (Miller did not return a call seeking comment.)
“If you think Andy Miller is protecting anyone, you’ve got another thing coming,” said a third source familiar with the investigation. “It isn’t about anyone but him.”
In terms of potential NCAA violations, the information is expected to inevitably trickle out through pretrial motions and the trials themselves. Dates for three trials have been set, some of them not scheduled to begin until 2019. (There’s no certainty all of the collected information will get out, nor will there be any specific timeline when it’s released.)
So how deep did Miller’s operation go? One source with knowledge of the investigation estimated that ASM Sports was paying more than three times as many prospects, and families of prospects, as clients they signed. The impact on the NCAA landscape is expected to be significant. No one is certain if the federal government is targeting other NBA agents amid the competitive landscape, but it is widely believed within the sport that Miller was far from the only agent operating in this manner.
Atlanta-based attorney Stu Brown, a veteran of representing coaches and schools in NCAA compliance cases, said Yahoo Sports’ information on college basketball’s underground economy “does not surprise me one scintilla.”
“My sense is that for a dozen years or so, agent funding of prospective student-athletes with professional potential … has been going on,” Brown said. “As has guiding those student-athletes to attend schools where agents felt like they had good relationships with the coaching staff. Now, I caution, in not every case does that mean the college coach or coaches knew about that arrangement, let alone were active participants. Furthermore, it would not be unusual for the student-athlete to not be aware of the transaction, which might have been arranged with a family member or third party. But the general premise [has been going on for a while]. What you described surprises me zero.”
There’s no certainty NCAA enforcement will receive all the information the government compiled, though it clearly would be valuable in pursuing cases against member schools. “That is the exact kind of information the NCAA will implore the U.S. Attorney’s office to provide at some point,” Brown said. “Also, if there are plea agreements with any of the defendants, the feds could make cooperation with the NCAA part of those plea agreements.”
Miller emerged the past two decades as one of the most prominent and polarizing agents on the NBA landscape. He’s executed well over a billion dollars in deals, meaning at least $40 million to his agency’s coffers. (Not including the hefty agent cut on advertising and marketing deals.) But Miller relinquished his agent status with the NBA Players Association in December in the wake of the scandal, and his company, ASM, has sputtered in its attempts to resume business as usual. (ASM is owned by a European company called YouFirst Sports, which no longer lists Miller on its website. YouFirst did not respond to a request to clarify Miller’s role).
ASM is still moving forward, but cracks are starting to form in the once-powerful company. Yahoo Sports learned this week that one of Miller’s highest-paid clients, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, no longer lists ASM as his agent. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s fired ASM, but he also hasn’t filed paperwork to stay with them. (With two years left on his deal after this season, there’s no urgency for Lowry to name an agent.)
Six other American-based clients have left ASM since the scandal broke – Justin Patton, Trevor Booker, Edmond Sumner, Jaron Blossomgame, K.J. McDaniels and Semaj Christon. (ASM or YouFirst is expected to receive agent fees on all of the more than $25 million in NBA and G-League contracts of those players, as they’d signed the existing contracts before firing ASM). ASM also lost Scottie Wilbekin, a prominent European client.
Miller is still listed on the ASM website as the founder and president. How that business operated the past few years could alter the course of college sports in the months to come.
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