Texas Secretary of State investigating agent employee at center of college basketball scandal

Texas guard Eric Davis Jr. (left) has declared he is leaving school for the NBA draft. (AP)
Texas guard Eric Davis Jr. (left) has declared he is leaving school for the NBA draft. (AP)

SAN ANTONIO – As college basketball descends here for a Final Four that culminates a scandal-plagued season, 80 miles up Interstate 35 the Texas Secretary of State has notified one of the men arrested last fall in the federal fraud case that he is under investigation for violating the state’s so-called Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA).

Christian Dawkins, who worked for ASM Sports and agent Andy Miller, received a letter about the investigation for his alleged acts in pursuit of Eric Davis Jr., a guard from the University of Texas. Documents that are part of the federal case that were viewed by Yahoo Sports allege Davis received $1,500 FROM ASM.

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Davis was suspended by Texas in late February, after the Yahoo Sports story pertaining to the ASM documents was published, and he did not play again for the Longhorns. On Wednesday, he officially declared himself eligible for the NBA draft after starting one game and averaging 8.8 points per game this year.

The case is not a criminal investigation. It would seek a civil resolution that would result in, at most, a fine.

Steve Haney, Dawkins’ Michigan-based attorney, confirmed the receipt of the letter and said there has been no other contact about it.

While not acknowledging any specific action, Haney noted that both Dawkins and Davis hail from Saginaw, Michigan, and have a lengthy relationship that predates Davis being a highly regarded basketball prospect. Under NCAA rules, a pre-existing relationship of that kind could potentially allow for gifts or benefits to be given to a player without jeopardizing their eligibility.

“In the case of Davis and Dawkins, there is a long history there,” Haney said.

Haney said that a Secretary of State inquiry at the local level with a potential financial resolution was a far more reasonable way to handle the alleged actions than a federal case with potential prison time at stake. Dawkins, 24, faces up to 200 years in prison according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which hit him with numerous fraud and bribery charges.

As other defense attorneys have said since the case broke, Haney questioned what federal law was broken in the case and why what was a minor crime that is rarely prosecuted is such a big deal.

“They are almost legislating,” Haney told Yahoo Sports. “There are already laws on the books for this. The Agent Athlete Act is a state [matter].”

This is the first known example of a state wading into the widespread scandal involving agents, runners, shoe companies, college coaches and financial planners and how they pursue future NBA clients. Over 40 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have some form of the UAAA. The law first came into favor in 2000, although it is rarely enforced, prosecutors have long noted, because more serious crimes take precedent.

“I don’t recall a whole lot of states coming after agents because they violated some law,” said Warren K. Zola, a professor at Boston College and expert sports law. “If I’m an agent and I have used money to induce [a potential client] to do something, I’m not concerned about a state law coming after me.”

Haney said the rare instances of state enforcement shows how unimportant much of the alleged activities in this scandal are from a legal perspective.

“You have to look long and hard to find a case where they pursue an agent, a runner, a marketer or anyone under the Agent Athlete Act,” Haney said. “Prosecutors don’t waste resources on this stuff when they are dealing with far more serious crimes such as drug trafficking, organized crime or terrorism.”

The NCAA is likely to view agent dealings with college athletes more seriously than law-enforcement agencies. But Haney noted that if the NCAA cared about this law it could have partnered with local prosecutors and funded special units to enforce the UAAA. Other industries have done this to get minor crimes that are important to them prosecuted.

“The NCAA could have granted funding but has never really cared about this,” Haney said.

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