Does anyone remember Sept. 27, 2017?
It was actually a pretty momentous day in the world of college basketball — or at least it was purported to be. That was the day the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of 10 individuals pertaining to a college basketball scandal dealing with corruption, pay for play, fraud, bribery and money laundering.
The feds arrogantly and triumphantly stated they were going to do what the NCAA had never been able to do. Once and for all, they would clean up the dirty sport of college basketball. If you don’t recall, it was a very impressive showing of force and intellectualism with easy-to-read charts and graphs.
I bring this up because Auburn was initially one of the schools named in the exhaustive investigation or sting operation along with Oklahoma State, Arizona, USC, Louisville, Miami and South Carolina. Several Adidas executives and agents were also named as well as multiple assistant coaches, including Chuck Person. Since then, more schools have been implicated, such as Kansas, LSU, Alabama and North Carolina State to varying degrees.
To make an incredibly long story unjustifiably short, the authorities vowed to go after all the guilty no matter how blue the blood and promised jail time for some offenders. In the end, the principal players did a few months in jail, several assistant coaches lost their jobs and Rick Pitino was fired at Louisville.
After promising the Hammer of Thor on the entire sport, the FBI used countless man hours, wiretaps and taxpayer dollars to produce hardly any meaningful results and certainly had no cleansing effect of any kind.
Now, in a twist of irony, the NCAA, which most people consider completely impotent, has followed up on the FBI investigation and is in the process of handing down the very punishments the FBI failed to deliver. Seven schools are on record as having received a NOA (notice of allegations) from the NCAA. The schools are Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina State, Southern Cal, Texas Christian University, South Carolina and Oklahoma State.
It has been reported — although unsubstantiated — Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Creighton and Arizona are also being investigated. None of those schools has officially received a NOA as far as I know.
Once a school receives a NOA, it has 90 days to respond to the charges or, more to the point, scream “Not guilty!” After the school responds, the NCAA has 60 days to reply or say, “Oh yes you are!”
We are now in the middle of this little dance with most of the teams listed above. Level I infractions are the most severe. NC State was accused of two Level I violations. Oklahoma State was accused of one Level I violation. The Cowboys just received a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season. That’s actually a very big deal for a lot of reasons. They can appeal the ruling and I’m sure they will.
Kansas is accused of five Level I violations. The Jayhawks have vociferously denied the allegations, but the NCAA has used words like “egregious” to refer to their behavior. Judging by the precedent set with Oklahoma State, Kansas could be looking at major punishment.
What does all this mean for Auburn? Well, I’m just realizing this subject needed so much set up so it’s now become a two-parter.
To be continued…