College basketball bribery scandal spreads, Rick Pitino fired

Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino

The 2017/2018 season is sporadically getting underway, but global Basketball is engrossed in the NCAA college basketball bribery scandal that has engulfed the sport. A day after the federal prosecutors announced an investigation and charges that will highlight “fraud and corruption in college Basketball”, the case has expanded.

Renowned agent Andy Miller has been named in the investigation, while Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has been removed.

The only real surprises left in this legal investigation are the names yet to come. No one will raise an eyebrow if more people are involved. Indeed, when the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s (U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim) office issued a statement, it specifically said the investigation was in its infancy and would grow to implicate more people.

Make no mistake, this is a scandal that will change the face of college Basketball recruitment forever. As we revealed yesterday, one source close to the matter said the bribery scandal involved the sportswear manufacturer (Adidas) paying money to coaches and players. “The end result is that the players who are big prospects sign with these big agents and financial companies.”

ASM Sports’ Miller is the latest to be involved when the FBI confiscated his computer as part of the investigation. The agent represents such NBA players as Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner. Miller’s involvement comes as he once employed Christian Dawkins, who is involved in the investigation and told coaches “If we take care of everybody, we control everything. You can make millions off one kid.”

Adidas executive Jim Gatto, who is alleged to have smoothed the processes for people in Basketball to receive bribes for bringing recruits to institutions, was arrested on Wednesday morning.

Rick Pitino, no stranger to controversy after the Louisville sex scandal, has also been brought into the investigation and has paid with his job. An assistant working under Pitino was caught planning a pay-for-play scheme for a Class of 2019 prospect.

Pitino, in a narrative we have seen before from the Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer, denied knowledge and said he was shocked. He released a statement through his lawyer today. As for Louisville, the school clearly believes enough is enough and fired the tactician.

Over the last two years, Pitino has gone from hero to zero. He led Louisville to the NCAA championship and has since seen his legacy fall apart. The main reason for that was the sex scandal that erupted around the program, showing assistants paid for sex favours for under age players in a bid to recruit them.

Pitino survived that scandal by denying knowledge of the practises, although the school did side-line him for the first five games of this season. We wrote before how Pitino is known for his eye for detail and knowing all aspects of his program. With that in mind, his lack of knowledge of the scandals shows negligence at best and knowledge of the situations at worse. Either way, Louisville has decided enough is enough.

Changing the face of NCAA Basketball

We are at the stage where the college basketball bribery scandal is likely to change the face of college hoops forever. In fact, this may end up being big enough to change the way college sports operates in general.

Some are arguing that at least a sample of those involved may not have necessarily known they were breaking the law. Taking something from a sports clothes manufacturer may not have been seen as a bribe to some. Federal prosecutors are clear that it is, and those involved may face jail time.

However, there is now a suggestion that many did not believe this was criminal, and therefore it may be widespread across Basketball, or indeed across all sports. Could we be on the cusp of the biggest sporting scandal in history? Time will tell, but there is plenty of room for this investigation to grow, especially if some of those charged were unsure of the law.

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