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Jeff Turner

A Team-By-Team Analysis Amid FBI Investigations


Photo courtesy: Jeff Turner

 

Finally, a college basketball scandal that doesn’t involve Lavar Ball…

 

The world of college basketball has been flipped upside down since last week when the FBI announced their previously covert investigations into the corrupt happenings in NCAA basketball. Several teams have been targeted during these investigations and information on the repercussions is updated daily by major news outlets. The possible legal consequences of the scandal have been well documented by these sites, however, there will also be widespread ramifications for each of these schools’ on-court production. This article will look at how the involved teams could suffer during the coming season.

 

Alabama

Last Wednesday, Kobie Baker, a men’s basketball administrator from the University of Alabama resigned following the university’s internal review of its men’s basketball operations. The review was in response to Kobie Baker being named as a suspect in the FBI’s report. While Baker’s non-presence may not be felt on the court this winter, Alabama will be visited by the NCAA to check on the eligibility of big time recruit Collin Sexton, who is believed to be a player involved in the scandal. While there is no further public knowledge linking Sexton to the current allegations, if Alabama was to suspend their star recruit, the team would noticeably suffer in the upcoming season. Alabama’s worst-in-the-SEC offense this past season crippled their ability to win games and ultimately reach the NCAA tournament last year. If the Crimson Tide wants a fighting chance this year, they will be praying Collin Sexton is eligible to play and his hands are clean from this messy behind-the-scenes scandal.

 

Arizona

Arizona men’s basketball, currently ranked #2 in the preseason, has suffered from the recent allegations as well. Assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson is accused of paying a player with bribe money to join the Wildcats roster. The player is currently being identified as “Player 5” and there are no leads as to who this player may be for Arizona. Richardson has been a long-time basketball assistant at the University of Arizona and his involvement in the scandal is sure to put Arizona under the spotlight. If the investigations find current players accepted Richardson’s bribes, the esteemed Wildcats roster for the upcoming season will likely suffer and cause UA to slip out of their highly-ranked spot.

 

Auburn

Auburn is feeling the heat from the FBI investigation, with their assistant coach Chuck Person being suspended with pay from the team and arrested when the investigation opened up. According to FBI documents, Person accepted several bribes to steer players to a custom clothier for athletes. The documents also state Person may have given money to the families of two Auburn players at some point. The results of the investigation may be most intense for Auburn, as the school announced they were refunding season ticket holders. While this may cause the morale of the team to suffer, perhaps even more influential on the team’s upcoming seasons is the loss of four-star recruit, E.J. Montgomery. The power-forward had already made a year-long commitment to the Tigers, until his father announced—following the investigation of the Auburn basketball team—that Montgomery would opening his recruitment back up. Sophomore Austin Wiley’s name has also been mentioned in relation to Person’s bribery. While there is no clear evidence if Wiley was involved in any way, his college eligibility will be at stake if information comes out that he is connected to Chuck Person. Auburn is suffering major repercussions due to the ongoing investigation so far, and it will be interesting to see how this plays a role in the on-court production for the Tigers.

 

Louisville

Louisville basketball is another team that is experiencing great loss following the recent FBI investigations. Headlines regarding Louisville’s involvement in the scandal include “Death for Louisville Basketball” (Inside Higher Ed) and “How Five Days in Louisville Changed Everything” (ESPN). Basically, the program was flipped upside down with no positive light at the end of the tunnel. Within the past week, Hall-of-Fame head coach Rick Pitino was placed on unpaid leave and athletic director Tom Jurich was put on paid leave. Though no specific coaches or players are named, the team is sure to experience some pitfalls this season with their head coach gone and possible players being questioned about their eligibility. Perhaps the hardest hit to the Cardinals, however, was the loss of multiple commits. ESPN 100 prospects Anfernee Simmons and Courtney Ramsey both de-committed once the news was leaked about Louisville’s involvement in the scandal. This Wednesday, transfer junior guard David Johnson also announced he was stepping away from his commitment to the Cardinals. Louisville, a top-ten team entering the season, is destined to struggle in the upcoming seasons due to this scandal. It will take a while for them to rebuild a men’s basketball team worth putting in the Final Four of fans’ March Madness brackets.

 

Oklahoma State

Associate head coach Lamont Evans was fired by Oklahoma State University directly following the announcement that the FBI investigation was going public. Evans, former assistant at the University of South Carolina, is accused of accepting at least $22,000 in bribery to influence players at both South Carolina and Oklahoma State. No news has been released on any players involved, but the FBI is continuing the investigation into Oklahoma State and possibly South Carolina as more information. Oklahoma State seemed to steer clear of their trouble by firing Evans and their basketball team should be in good shape to start the season on the right foot… for now.

 

USC

USC continues to have high hopes for their team, despite the ruckus the investigation may have caused in Southern California. Assistant coach Tony Bland has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. He is also accused of providing two families of USC players $9,000. These players, being referred to as “Player 8” and “Player 9” are not identified. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, head coach Andy Enfield claimed, as of right now, every player is playing and he expects them all to be eligible. Speaking for the team, senior guard Jordan McLaughlin said the players were hurt and shocked to learn the news. However, USC is not letting the scandal bring them down. They have high expectations from themselves and from NCAA fans, and they plan to not disappoint. USC seems to be set for a good season, as long as eligibility does not come into question for players.

 

 

The NCAA basketball scandal is exposing new information each day, which is sure to play a role in any team’s morale, roster, or coaching staff. As the winter approaches, it will be interesting to see how this investigation changes the world of NCAA basketball, particularly in the upcoming seasons.

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