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Arizona among several schools still waiting to hear NCAA's results from investigation
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Men’s basketball

Arizona among several schools still waiting to hear NCAA's results from investigation

After the second federal trial involving college basketball finished last spring, officially unleashing follow-up NCAA investigations, a top NCAA official said six involved schools would receive notices of allegation by the end of the summer.

“It’s go time,” the NCAA’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs, Stan Wilcox, told The Athletic in May. We’re not going to be holding back. We’re moving forward with everything possible in the arsenal we have to collectively change the culture that has come to light.”

But only two schools acknowledged receiving notices by the end of September: North Carolina State and Kansas. Then Oklahoma State was issued a notice in November and, earlier this month, USC acknowledged receiving one.

That still totals only four as the New Year approaches, suggesting Arizona and many other schools implicated in the federal proceedings are still waiting for what is the NCAA’s formal method of letting schools know what its investigation has found. However, the NCAA says schools can enter the summary-disposition process before receiving a notice of allegations if it agrees with the facts that an NCAA investigation has uncovered.

While former Arizona coach Book Richardson and several other figures have long left or been fired from their jobs since the federal investigation first became public in September 2017, the programs they left behind can still face NCAA penalties. In addition, NCAA rules now say head coaches can be held responsible for the actions of their direct and indirect reports unless they can rebut the presumption of responsibility.

“Those top coaches that were mentioned in the trials where the information shows what was being said was a violation of NCAA rules … they will be all part of these notices of allegations,” Wilcox told CBS Sports in June.

The Star has filed several public records requests with UA seeking any communication from the NCAA regarding its investigation into the men’s basketball program — an investigation UA confirmed in May had been underway — including a notice of allegations or letter of inquiry. But each time, most recently in a Dec. 20 response, the school has said it had no records responsive to the request.

While the Wildcats’ investigation status remains unknown, here’s a look at where many schools implicated in the federal proceedings stand as of now:

Schools who have received notices of allegations:

NC State

Notice of allegations received: July 10, 2019

What was in it: NCAA alleged that former NC State star Dennis Smith, Jr. and those associated with him received a total of about $46,700 in impermissible benefits between September 2014 and March 2017 via former assistant coach Orlando Early. It said former NC State coach Mark Gottfried did not demonstrate he monitored Early’s dealings with Adidas rep TJ Gassnola and Shawn Farmer, an associate of Smith’s. Gottfried was fired in 2017 after the Wolfpack went 15-17.

School initial response: “We are prepared to be accountable where we believe it is appropriate and to vigorously defend this great university and its athletics program where we feel it is necessary.” – N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson.

School formal response: In conjunction with a law firm, N.C. State submitted a 66-page response to the allegations on Dec. 9 in which it questioned the evidence of a $40,000 payment from Gassnola to Smith, and the veracity of Gassnola’s testimony during the first federal college basketball trial in Oct. 2108, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

“When this process started, we promised accountability where appropriate and vigorous defense where necessary, and our response does exactly that,” Woodson said in a statement. “We look forward to a thorough and accurate review by the panel of the committee on infractions and a fair resolution of this case for the university and the NCAA.”

The school suggested self-imposed sanctions that include the loss of a scholarship for the 2021 recruiting class, reductions in 2019-20 recruiting visits and a $5,000 fine.

What’s next: The NCAA has until February to respond to N.C. State’s response.

Kansas

Notice of allegations received: Sept. 23, 2019

What was in it: The NCAA issued five Level I (the most serious) charges, saying that coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend “intentionally and willfully engaged in NCAA violations and blatantly disregarded the NCAA constitution and bylaws” along with Adidas representatives, according to the Kansas City Star. The NCAA said Gassnola and Adidas rep Jim Gatto offered impermissible benefits to Kansas recruit Billy Preston,and that Townsend and Adidas personnel engaged in violations while recruiting Kansas player Silvio De Sousa.

The NCAA also alleged that Self and Townsend had knowledge of some impermissible recruiting contacts Adidas representatives, citing evidence from the federal case that Gassnola had given $15,000 to a family friend of former UA player Deandre Ayton, and that Gassnola later expressed that he had let Self down (because Ayton did not attend Kansas).

University initial response: “While we will accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws, we will not shy away from forcefully pushing back on allegations that the facts simply do not substantiate. We stand firmly behind Coach Self and our men’s basketball program, and we will continue to work diligently to do what is right.” — Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod.

What’s next: Kansas has until Feb. 19 to respond to the NCAA.

Oklahoma State

Notice of allegations received: Nov. 22, 2019

What was in it: The NCAA issued a Level I unethical conduct charge against former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans, who was one of four coaches along with Richardson, USC’s Tony Bland and Auburn’s Chuck Person who were arrested in September 2017 as a result of the federal investigation. The NCAA accused Evans of taking advantage of his position to steer athletes professionally after college, saying he took at least $18,150 in bribes to do so.

Evans pled guilty to taking $22,000 in bribes and was sentenced to three months in prison. The NCAA did not charge current OSU coach Mike Boynton or his staff, or former Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood, who hired Evans and is now coaching Illinois.

University initial response: In a statement, Oklahoma State agreed with the NCAA’s findings on Evans but disagreed that it was a Level I infraction, saying it “feels strongly” that Evans took bribes solely for his own benefit.

“Following the NCAA’s thorough investigation with OSU’s full cooperation and participation, the university agrees that Mr. Evans did in fact accept bribes for the purpose of steering players to financial advisors in violation of NCAA bylaws,” the school ‘s statement said. “While OSU is very disappointed that this occurred, we were relieved to learn that there were no recruiting or other major violations on the part of the institution.”

What’s next: Oklahoma State has until February to respond formally.

USC

Notice of allegations received: Dec. 13, 2019

What was in it: USC declined specifics, but acknowledged the notice was “related to a former coach in the men’s basketball program.” That coach is believed to be Bland, who pleaded guilty to receiving $4,100 in bribes. He was fired from USC but received only two years’ probation.

University initial response: “USC has cooperated with the NCAA since it first became aware of the issues raised in the notice of allegations. Because the notice involves a pending NCAA case, USC is unable to discuss any of the allegations in or facts relating to the case. USC looks forward to an expeditious resolution of this matter.”

What’s next: USC has until March to formally respond.

Schools who might receive notices:

Arizona

Federal allegations the NCAA could be investigating: Richardson pleaded guilty to taking $20,000 in bribes while several other allegations surfaced during the second federal trial in April and May. Included were a recorded phone call in which aspiring agent Christian Dawkins said coach Sean Miller “bought” Ayton for $10,000 a month and a recording in which Richardson said he paid the cousin of former UA guard Rawle Alkins $2,000 a month.

School response: The UA confirmed to the Star in May that an NCAA investigation was underway. In a victim impact statement filed in advance of Richardson’s June sentencing, UA said it was bracing for substantial NCAA penalties stemming from Richardson’s actions.

Auburn

Federal allegations the NCAA could be investigating: Former assistant coach Chuck Person admitted to taking $91,500 in bribes. He was fired by Auburn and assigned to 200 hours of community service but not imprisoned.

School response: Auburn said in a victim impact statement sent to a federal judge before Person’s sentencing that it expected to receive notice of allegations in the coming months. Its statement read, in part: “While Auburn believes the NCAA investigation to date has only confirmed that any staff misconduct was isolated to Person — and that his misconduct was committed in a way so as to avoid Auburn’s detection — the University will still have to navigate the enforcement process to an ultimate conclusion, a process that may drag into yet another basketball season. Despite the fact that the NCAA has already imposed what Auburn believes are sufficient penalties for those student-athletes affected by Person’s misbehavior, the possibility exists that Auburn’s athletics department and/or men’s basketball team could face further sanction and penalties from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.”

Creighton

Federal allegations the NCAA could be investigating: Government prosecutors alleged that then-Creighton assistant coach Preston Murphy accepted a $6,000 bribe from Dawkins in July 2017, and a video was shown in federal court showing that Murphy stuff an envelope of cash into his pocket (though defense attorneys suggested he didn’t keep the money because he was teaming up with a friend for a ruse, according to the Omaha World-Herald).

School response: Murphy was placed on administrative leave in March and resigned last month. Creighton AD Bruce Rasmussen told the World-Herald in October that he expected to hear from the NCAA “in the next month or two,” but it has not acknowledged hearing anything yet.

Louisville

Federal allegations the NCAA could be investigating: During the first federal trial in October 2018, the father of former five-star recruit Brian Bowen testified that Dawkins told him Adidas would pay $100,000 if he went to Louisville. A defense attorney for Adidas executive Jim Gatto said the $100,000 figure was meant to compete with an “astronomical” offer from Oregon.

Bowen Sr. also testified that Dawkins said Arizona offered $50,000 for his son and Creighton offered $50,000 plus the placement of Bowen Sr. into a “good job,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. In addition, Bowen Sr. said former Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson gave him $1,300.

Prosecutors also said Louisville assistant Jordan Fair gave $900 to an unspecified recruit, while government witness Marty Blazer said Fair arranged for club-ball director Brad Augustine to receive $11,700 in hopes of landing recruit Balsa Koprivica.

School response: Louisville fired coach Rick Pitino, Fair and Johnson shortly after the federal investigation became public, while athletic director Tom Jurich was also fired but later reached a settlement in which the school said it was done so without cause. The school was already under probation at the time of the allegations because of four prior Level 1 violations, meaning it could face severe penalties as a repeat offender.

LSU

Federal allegations the NCAA could be investigating: Yahoo and ESPN reported leaked contents of wiretapped conversations recorded by federal investigators in which LSU coach Will Wade discussed a “strong-ass offer” with Dawkins for then-LSU-recruit Javonte Smart. During the second federal trial, Richardson was shown on video saying that Wade told him he had a $300,000 deal for five-star recruit Naz Reid, and that he told Wade he could land Reid for “half that.”

School response: LSU suspended Wade on March 8, 2019 after he refused to meet with NCAA and LSU officials, but was reinstated on April 14 after agreeing to a meeting two days earlier. Wade and UA’s Miller were reportedly subpoenaed for the second federal basketball trial last spring, but a federal judge ruled their testimony would not be relevant so they did not appear.

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