MONEY MATTERS

Patrick Creighton: What Is the FBI really looking for in NCAA probe?

Sean Miller's name has come up in FBI probe. Wikipedia

This is something that has been bothering me since the first reports of the FBI investigating college basketball began to surface: Why does the FBI care about the NCAA?

The FBI, normally completely tight lipped in an investigation, has suddenly sprung more leaks than the Titanic.  We continue to get more and more leaked information regarding coaches, players, universities, shoe company execs, etc. The common thread:  Andy Miller, Christian Dawkins, and ASM Sports.

As more stories leak about athletes being paid money to A) become a future client of ASM B) become a future client of Adidas C) align with a particular financial planner D) attend a particular university or E) all of the above, one thing remains clear here.  None of these actions are illegal, so why is the FBI involved?

An agent can pay an athlete, advance an athlete, loan money to an athlete, whatever language you want to use, whatever money they want.  It’s not illegal. In fact, today on Nate & Creight we had longtime agent Carl Poston on the show, and he confirmed as much.  So if these actions are not illegal, they are just NCAA violations, why is the FBI wasting taxpayer dollars acting as the NCAA’s watchdog?

Poston said he believed the FBI was gathering information.  What potential one-and-done kid is getting a payday to attend what school hardly seems like something that should be the FBI’s concern.  Then he raised a point that at first didn’t seem to matter but the more I thought about it, the more it did.  There’s a lot of kids, a lot of coaches, and A LOT of money.

Poston then gave the example of if you falsify documents on a loan, you break laws.  If the money gets wired interstate, its federal law being broken.  Again, my first reaction was “Adidas doesn’t need to take out a loan to pay anyone,” but what if all the money wasn’t coming straight from Adidas?

What if the money was coming from ASM?  Where did they get the money?  Did they take out short term loans that were obtained using falsified information?  Did they skim off the top? Did they use money that belonged to other clients or to investors without their consent? Did they employ a host of other illicit or illegal maneuvers to obtain those funds?

The most recent bombshell news involved University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller allegedly discussing making a $100K payment to an athlete who eventually came to play ball for Miller at Arizona on a wiretap.  The wiretap was ordered on Dawkins’ phone. Therefore, it’s Dawkins, Andy Miller, and ASM Sports that are the real targets in the probe, and the NCAA guys are collateral damage.

There are some people already facing wire fraud charges by the FBI, and based on what we know right now, there’s probably very little chance those charges really stick, because again, the show company or the agency transferring money to these athletes is only an NCAA violation, it isn’t breaking a law. How that payment money has been obtained has been the quiet part of the case.

While realistically we can only speculate on what the FBI is really doing with this NCAA probe, peeling the onion back shows this isn’t really an NCAA probe, but an ASM Sports probe. The only real legal issue seems to be the money trail.

We have all been looking at NCAA coaches and athletes and trying to see where the money trail ends.  Maybe the FBI is looking at where that money trail begins?

Patrick Creighton is the host of Nate & Creight heard weekdays 1-3p on SportsMap 94.1 FM & Sports & Shenanigans Sundays 12-5p CT nationwide on SB Nation Radio.  Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

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