What’s certain is that there’s enough compromising information to rock the sport to its core. There will be thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of hours of wiretaps with the voices of prominent coaches brokering deals with the middlemen, sneaker executives and talent traffickers.
Will it trickle out? Or get released all at once? That’s complicated and procedural. The NCAA’s involvement in this case so far has been minimal. They’ve been in consistent contact with the federal investigators, careful to respect the boundaries of the criminal investigations. Whenever the information is released from under protective order, the NCAA will have to continue to respect the boundaries of the criminal investigations as they begin their own.
Miller’s financial activity is expected to compromise dozens of programs and players, but he certainly wasn’t a rogue agent. Rather, Miller was jockeying for clients in a competitive field where agents consistently exhibited similar behavior. (Miller did not return a call seeking comment.)
The routine nature of agents, runners and financial advisors operating in a world rife with payoffs, bag drops and kickbacks leaves the federal investigators at a fascinating crossroads. “The biggest mystery in this case is why more high-profile coaches and agents haven’t been brought in,” said the source who has been briefed on the case.
As witnesses paint a picture of the depths of corruption in the basketball underworld, the feds need to make a decision whether they want to expose other sneaker companies, agents and coaches. So far, there’s been no indication that they’re prepared to do that. The basketball underworld is sophisticated and nuanced, a black market forged over decades of moving players. Even with all the wiretaps and documents, the feds are still catching up on how it all worked. “The craziest part of it all is that they could have walked into one of 15 agent’s offices and it’s just as bad,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “It just would have been other people and other schools.”
There had been a flurry of activity in the case in the past week that had conjured some optimism for the defense attorneys. A Wall Street Journal report about an undercover FBI agent under investigation and a motion filed revealing a paperwork error appeared to poke some holes in the case.
Those matters will ultimately have to be addressed, but any momentum for the defense attorneys was abruptly and tersely halted Thursday morning.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, presiding on the 26th floor of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse in lower Manhattan, denied a motion to dismiss one of the cases with the legal equivalent of a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag after a blocked shot.
Lawyers for three of the defendants – Adidas executives Merl Code and Jim Gatto and business manager Christian Dawkins – had filed for a motion to dismiss the cases based essentially on the notion that the universities in the cases couldn’t be considered victims. They were, after all, benefitting from the players and their performances on the court.
As Kaplan listened impatiently to Gatto’s lawyer, Michael S. Schachter, argue the motion, the judge’s mood vacillated between annoyed and ornery. His reactions to Schachter’s arguments included, “it would be quite a stretch,” “are you kidding me?” and “I’ve actually read the indictment.” He made one jab about the media attention the case has generated and ultimately dismissed the motion by saying that Schachter’s arguments would be better heard by a jury. (Schachter declined comment.)
The trial for that case will begin on Oct. 1, and the case involving former Auburn assistant Chuck Person and clothier Rashan Michel starts on Feb. 4 of 2019. (Another judge set the date for the third case – which includes the other three assistant coaches – for April 22.)
Until then, the NCAA tournament will be played amid the soundtrack – TICK, TICK, TICK – of potential chaos. Maybe the next one will, too. University presidents should be losing sleep. Millionaire coaches should be losing hair and plotting escapes to the NBA. And players should be preparing for their dirty laundry – or that of their relatives – to be aired.
What would happen if the information under protective order were to be released before the NCAA selection show on March 11?
A source who has been briefed on the case laughed: “You might see Tennessee-Chattanooga as a No. 2 seed.”
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This story was originally published on Yahoo News.