May 10, 2019

It's the NCAA's turn to investigate the college basketball bribery scandal

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Following a two-week trial, jurors on Wednesday returned guilty verdicts on just three of the 10 charges faced by Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, two of the main defendants in the college basketball bribery scandal.

Why it matters: This was the final major trial as part of the FBI's wide-ranging investigation — an underwhelming conclusion to a case that the U.S. Attorney's Office said would "expose the dark underbelly of college basketball," per the NYT. In the end, federal prosecutors were only able to score a small victory, putting the onus on the NCAA to carry this investigation forward — or let it fizzle out.

What happened: Four Power 5 assistant coaches, two former Adidas employees, one wannabe agent, one financial adviser and one former NBA referee were convicted.

  • That's it. A few minor actors in a vast scandal that touched Kansas head coach Bill Self for crying out loud. Underbelly = not exactly exposed.
  • Meanwhile, LSU coach Will Wade and Arizona coach Sean Miller were caught on wiretaps talking about paying recruits, but never even took the witness stand after the judge nixed their testimonies.

Flashback: On Sept. 26, 2017, the FBI announced with great fanfare that it had made numerous arrests as part of a massive investigation that promised to shake college basketball to its core.

  • Two years and millions of tax dollars later, what did that investigation amount to? "A fart in a stiff wind," writes SI's Andy Staples. A big old fart.

What's next? The feds got what they wanted — convictions, which is the only score that matters to them. Now, it's up to the NCAA to go after the big names.

  • Problem is, they don't have access to the FBI's information and, without subpoena power, can't demand that Dawkins, Code and other defendants speak with their investigators.

Where it stands: This saga will likely drag on for months, maybe even years, and there's a decent chance nothing much comes of it — a strange yet not entirely unexpected outcome to a scandal that nobody even cares about anymore.

Go deeper: "Money, bribes and basketball": The trial of Christian Dawkins

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