We’ve been hearing about the federal investigation into potential bribery and fraud within college basketball for some time now. The criminal cases against the ten people (including four assistant coaches) so far involved has yet to be litigated, but that doesn’t new information won’t keep coming out.
And according to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, there’s a whole lot of information still out there:
Multiple sources who’ve been briefed on the case and are familiar with the material obtained by feds told Yahoo Sports that the impact on the sport will be substantial and relentless. Sitting under protective order right now are the fruits of 330 days of monitoring activity by the feds, which one assistant US Attorney noted Thursday was “a voluminous amount of material.” That includes wiretaps from 4,000 intercepted calls and thousands of documents and bank records obtained from raids and confiscated computers, including those from notorious NBA agent Andy Miller.
It stands to reason that even if all of that material doesn’t end up constituting illegal activity in the eyes of the government (and it could, despite people who can’t seem to understand why the FBI is investigating this; bribery, fraud, and corruption are crimes, they’re not simply against NCAA rules), it is evidence that could spell trouble for a large swath of college basketball, larger than anyone probably suspected:
“This goes a lot deeper in college basketball than four corrupt assistant coaches,” said a source who has been briefed on the details of the case. “When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated.”
That’s a weirdly specific thing to mention, and if you’re curious, these were the 16 schools Thamel’s source is talking about:
South (Atlanta): (1) Virginia, (2) Cincinnati, (3) Michigan St., (4) Tennessee
East (Boston): (1) Villanova, (2) Duke, (3) Texas Tech, (4) Ohio State
Midwest (Omaha): (1) Xavier, (2) Auburn, (3) Clemson, (4) Oklahoma
West (Los Angeles): (1) Purdue, (2) Kansas, (3) North Carolina, (4) Arizona
There’s no way to carve eight schools out of that group without touching a perennial power, and the majority are big, brand-name schools in basketball (and other sports.)
This being the NCAA, though, it’s entirely possible that none of this will matter! Who really knows what to expect, especially considering the NCAA has a vested interest in not slaughtering one of their biggest cash cows. It’s also even possible that the information isn’t reliable, and it never gets out or it’s easily disproven.
Still, this feels as close as possible to an event that could truly alter the landscape of a major sport. Fortunately it’s a sport in need of a good landscape change.