By Chris McCormack ’18
It was a sad week for college basketball last week as 10 people, including four assistant coaches, were arrested for their part in a corruption and bribery scandal that put all eyes on the NCAA. Former Providence College Head Coach Rick Pitino was put on unpaid administrative leave and was eventually relieved of his coaching duties at the University of Louisville completely.
The investigation performed by the FBI began last year when a financial adviser Marty Blazer was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud allegations and accused of taking $2.35 million from five of his clients who were professional athletes. As part of the plea agreement that Blazer ultimately signed, he agreed to work under the FBI as a key witness and helped provide evidence that contributed to the 10 arrests made last week.
During his time at PC, Pitino helped coach the Friars to a Final Four in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. As one of the most successful coaches in NCAA, many people looked up to Pitino. However, in recent years he has been the face behind many scandals and this one seems like it is going to put him out of a coaching job for the rest of his life.
Pitino has been the center of attention for three other major scandals over the past 10 years. In 2009, a woman named Karen Sypher demanded money and cars from Pitino after they engaged in a sexual encounter in 2003. Sypher was ultimately arrested and Pitino faced no consequences.
In 2015, a former escort in the Louisville area published a book that documented the times she was paid by a graduate assistant to go to the dorms and visit potential recruits. Pitino claimed to have no idea these things were going on and the program was eventually suspended from participating in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Finally, the findings of last weeks investigation shows a coach from an unnamed program matching the description of Louisville allegedly paying $100,000 to a basketball recruit’s family.
These three investigations will result in Pitino’s legacy being forever tainted. The latest investigation is just one of many for the NCAA and players illegally receiving money from teams.
Pitino is the biggest name in this scandal but there are many others involved from other schools such as Auburn University, University of Southern California, University of Arizona, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Miami.
Arizona’s assistant coach Emmanuel Richardson is one of the coaches who was arrested last week. He is accused of accepting bribes from agent Christian Dawkins as well as financial adviser Munish Sood in exchange for pushing Arizona players to them as they reach the professional level. Richardson was relieved of all duties at the university.
Like Richardson, Auburn’s associate head coach Chuck Person was also arrested. He is accused of accepting a $50,000 bribe from Rashan Michel, owner of a clothing line based in Atlanta. Richardson accepted the bribe on the terms he would convince his players to sign with the clothing line once they make it to the pros.
Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans is also accused of accepting a bribe of $22,000 from Dawkins and Sood. He was a former coach at the University of South Carolina. At both Oklahoma State and South Carolina, he influenced players to sign with Dawkins and Sood.
University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland is accused of being bedding with the two bribers. He allegedly took a bribe of $13,000 and had Dawkins and Sood pay $9,000 to the families of two USC athletes.
All of these coaches, along with Dawkins and Sood, have been arrested and charged with fraud. It is the sad truth that this probably will not be the last time we hear about coaches and players violating NCAA standards.