FBI college basketball investigation has coaches, fans scared - KCTV5

FBI college basketball investigation has coaches, fans scared

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On Oct. 16, Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by the University of Louisville, bringing down a national-title contending program. (AP) On Oct. 16, Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by the University of Louisville, bringing down a national-title contending program. (AP)
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -

Scandal has rocked the college basketball world. Now, coaches, players and millions of fans are worried.

It all started on Sept. 26 when the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced charges of fraud and corruption against four college basketball assistant coaches.

University of Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, Auburn University assistant Chuck Person, Oklahoma State University assistant Lamont Evans and University of Southern California assistant Tony Bland were arrested and charged.

Then, on Oct. 16, things escalated.

Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by the University of Louisville, bringing down a national-title contending program. An FBI investigation revealed payments from shoe company Adidas to a Cardinals recruit. 

 Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton spoke out after seeing one of his assistant coaches arrested by federal agents.

"I was as shocked as anyone when this happened,” Boynton said.

 Kansas coach Bill Self says no one close to the game should have been surprised.

 "We've known, the NCAA's known, the NBA's known, agents have known, everyone's known that third-parties are a part of recruiting,” said Self in a one-on-one interview with KCTV5’s Neal Jones.

And now, the FBI is investigating other schools and other coaches.

The NCAA has responded with a blue-ribbon commission, and all coaches are on-edge.

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was blunt when speaking about the issue.

"It's not good for college basketball," Weber said.

Adidas is under heavy scrutiny, just weeks after the University of Kansas announced a $191 million deal with the shoe and apparel company.

Many observers say the top priority in any reform will be breaking the connection between shoe companies and high school athletes.

Self says one step might be for the National Basketball Association to allow players to go straight from high school into the pro ranks.

"That would eliminate probably 70-percent of the stuff,” Self said. “Because those kids won't be going to college."

Longtime college basketball reporter Jason King told KCTV5 that college recruiting will never be the same.

"Before, if a coach got caught doing something wrong, he might get penalized with some NCAA rules but now they could get jail-time,” King said. “So, I think it's going to clean up their act."

Everyone seems to agree that college basketball needs to be cleaned up.

"This will be painful in the short term but in the long run, the game will be better for it," University of Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins says not to paint all coaches with the same brush.

"I think because a few people didn't do the right thing, why would 99-percent of the coaches fall into that category?" Huggins asked.

Maybe so, but as the FBI continues to investigate college basketball programs, many fans are holding their breath.

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