What a great article. Covers all the bases: law, sports, and ethics. (And Tony of course). Excellent work. I’d be interested in your take on some of the implications for specific programs/recruits. On their recent podcast, Frazier and Titus focus on Zion Williamson. Any comment?— Albert Bradley (@AlbertBradley8) October 26, 2018
I started to listen to that podcast, but I have to say that they have lost me. If I am remembering the podcast right, they wanted Williamson to stay eligible so they could watch him play, which, of course, is to me the consumer attitude that makes widespread cheating with impunity possible. Capitalist market participants only get moral when their customer base demands it.
My comments on specific programs and recruits proceed from my expectation of what the NCAA will do. I do not believe the NCAA will simply do nothing, because I do not believe it can afford to do so, and I think it sees it that way. However, I also do not believe the NCAA will feel that it can afford to go after every program that has been implicated or conduct a wide-ranging investigation of its own proceeding from what the FBI has handed it. So what can it do? The most obvious option to me and what I think the NCAA ultimately will do is to punish the programs involved in the incidents that were judicially established from evidence introduced at trial, and leave it at that. Perhaps some additional rules and procedures will be established. That way, the NCAA can "do something", appear to be principled in its response, yet limit the damage.
Without reviewing the evidence, I believe that means Louisville will have some severe angst coming its way. This is a program that will have been found guilty of cheating before the ink was dry on its punishment for its last cheating scheme, while it was on probation. A lot of people are going to think and be quite eager to argue publicly that they are worthy of the death penalty. I am anti-death penalty when it comes to human beings, but athletic programs?
These guys are the runners-up to that institution down in Chapel Hill for the title of All Corruption Conference Champions. I'm sure the NCAA's actual response will be mitigated with the excuse that Louisville fired its basketball coach and athletics director immediately after the scandal broke.
Kansas has issues because Gatto was convicted of having two KU players paid. The extent of the damage to Kansas will likely not be great if the NCAA takes the approach I expect, because the damning evidence against them was not admitted in court. If the future cases go to trial, that could change. Kansas at this point would likely only face issues with the games that Billy Preston played.
NC State used Dennis Smith, to whom government witness Thomas Gassnola testified that he gave money. I would expect them to forfeit games, but without evidence of knowing participation by university personnel, I would not expect any real punishment.
Maryland apparently was part of the De Souza auction, but Under Armour's bid on its behalf was topped by Adidas for Kansas.
Miami was redacted out of the indictment, but apparently some testimony in the case may have implicated them in attempts to pay Nassir Little, so they could have some anxious moments. I do not expect much punishment based on the just-concluded trial.
No other school that I am aware of was implicated in evidence admitted at trial. Of the players we heard about, Preston and Smith are likely to be declared ineligible ex post facto, while De Souza of Kansas is likely to be joining the Brian Bowen professional transition program.
As for Zion Williamson, the OSP guys are probably going to get their way, as the potential evidence regarding him was excluded from the trial. Even if admitted, all it could establish is that he wanted a payoff, not that he got one. Unless further evidence turns up or the NCAA decides to do some aggressive investigation, nothing will happen with Williamson.
This evaluation could change after the next trial - if there is one. I will be not at all surprised to read that the remaining defendants have pleaded out. If there are more trials and more evidence gets admitted into court, more programs and players could wind up in NCAA jeopardy: Arizona, USC, Miami and Kansas prominent among them.
The other development that could dramatically widen the circle of at-risk programs and players without the NCAA having to mount an investigation would be if it decided to go after those actors implicated in documentary materials such as transcripts and wiretaps that are publicly avaliable, whether admitted in evidence in a trial or not. Kansas, Arizona, LSU and Miami probably all should face sanctions based on wiretaps and text messages that have been publicized. Bill Self complaining that Adidas is not getting him enough players is not a good look. I laugh when Kansas pleads innocence, just as I laughed when Arizona stood behind Sean Miller, who is about as innocent as Goldilocks.
Who wants to set an over/under on the number of new indictments before the next trial?