The NCAA fraud & corruption case: The “Adults” set the teenagers up for failure

Brian Bowen II was removed from practices at Louisville when the charges came out. He transferred to South Carolina but was not permitted to play, and then entered the N.B.A draft before withdrawing to play for a professional team in Australia.”[1]

     

      The guilty verdicts handed down today in the NCAA fraud and corruption case will cause some reverberations and may bring to light some schools and staff that hadn’t been mentioned before.

“DEFENDANTS IN RELATED TRIALS MIGHT NOW WANT TO REACH PLEA DEALS—AND THAT COULD IMPLICATE OTHERS

 

The convictions of Gatto, Code and Dawkins could motivate the other basketball corruption defendants to quickly negotiate plea deals with prosecutors in advance of their trials.

 

Any plea deal would require these defendants to not only plead guilty but also (1) share any electronic records and other evidence that could implicate other figures in basketball (including potentially head coaches) and (2) testify against others. As a result, it’s possible that additional persons in the basketball industry could be charged with crimes.”[2]

         Anyone in the “basketball industry” who has participated in illicit practices will undoubtedly be losing some sleep while the rest of this plays out. It’s too late for anyone to rewind the clock and reverse misdeeds or worse, try to cover them up. The focus needs to shift to identifying incremental and practical changes that can be easily implemented to improve practices going forward.

         The true victims of this exposure of illegal practices within the basketball industry are the student-athletes.

         For example, Munish Sood a financial advisor from NJ, “pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud and travel act offenses; payments of bribes to an agent of a federally funded organization; and wire fraud conspiracy.”[3] During trial testimony, there were examples of elite high school athletes and collegiate athletes whose careers were hijacked because of Sood’s actions.

“Munish Sood, a money manager who was initially charged before reaching an agreement with the government, testified that he was in on the plan. Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen Sr., confirmed much of the allegations in his own testimony, though he said that his son never knew about the deal, or the thousands of dollars he received from other sources related to where his son plied his ample talents.

Brian Bowen II was removed from practices at Louisville when the charges came out. He transferred to South Carolina but was not permitted to play, and then entered the N.B.A draft before withdrawing to play for a professional team in Australia.”[4]

         There’s no way to know how many advisors who haven’t been caught are still using illegal and unethical practices to get to student-athletes.      

       Sood’s former business partner, Marty Blazer, who has been barred from the brokerage industry, ordered by the SEC to pay fines related to a Ponzi scheme he used to defraud professional athletes (unrelated to the NCAA case) and is awaiting sentencing, paid coaches from several schools including:

“Blazer found another willing conspirator in former Oklahoma State associate head coach Lamont Evans, according to court documents. Blazer's payments to Evans began in April 2016, around the same time Evans left South Carolina for Oklahoma State, according to documents. The payments continued for several months and, in the end, totaled $22,000 -- plus two pair of $300 headphones Evans specifically requested.”

“Once, in introducing Blazer to a player, the coach made it seem as though he and Blazer had been good friends. Evans, according to court documents, told the player that meeting Blazer is ‘going to benefit you ... You just stay the course, play the game and you'll be fine.’ As soon as the player left, Blazer gave Evans $2,000.”

       With the NBA G-league implementing the “Professional Path” program that will pay $125,000 to high school graduates who choose to enter the NBA developmental league instead of college, there’s now a baseline value to establish a market. Players could enter the NBA G-league with the intent of saving money to eventually go to college someday. They could compare that value proposition with the value of attending college for one year at a school that will honor their scholarship in perpetuity and pay for their ultimate return to college.

         Regardless of how the remaining trials or plea deals unfold, it’s clear that universities need to change recruiting practices. If a player and his family want immediate access to money and education is a secondary priority, chances are they’ll opt for the $125,000 legitimate salary rather than take the risk of becoming ensnared in a potentially career-ruining legal battle.

         Collegiate athletic programs need to accept the reality that they’re likely not going to be able to compete with the market-establishing, above the table $125,000. Resources and investments into programs that will give life tools to the student athlete in preparation for a pre-graduation departure will be much more compelling to the athletes and families that prioritize a foundational level of college education. Those athletes and families will care about Financial Literacy and Financial Advisor Due Diligence to help prevent losing money once it’s earned.

         Without financial education and training, the first tool to screen financial advisors is typically a recommendation from someone the student-athlete trusts. If that trusted individual is someone who is giving recommendations based on who is bribing them, the student-athletes are set up to fail. An advisor who uses bribery as a way of developing business isn’t likely to conduct ongoing business with clients in an ethical manner.

                 

 


[1] NY Times, October 24, 2018, “Three Found Guilty in NCAA Basketball Recruiting Scheme” by, Marc Tracy

[2] SI.com, October 24, 2018, “Why the Prosecution Won in the College Hoops Corruption Trial and What’s Next” by, Michael McCann

[3] ESPN, August 31, 2018: “Munish Sood expected to testify in NCAA hoops case as part of plea” by: Mark Schlabach

[4] NY Times, October 24, 2018, “Three Found Guilty in NCAA Basketball Recruiting Scheme” by, Marc Tracy

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