FBI investigates NCAA basketball

Yahoo Sports published a report citing colleges that have allegedly used bribery to recruit players.  Earlier this year, Louisville’s head basketball coach was fired for similar reasons.

The FBI’s investigation into colleges in the NCAA lead Louisville to fire their coach, Rick Pitino, and several other teams to evaluate their recruiting methods. According to NPR, Pitino was let go in October after an alleged federal bribery and fraud investigation. After a report on Pitino’s firing by Yahoo Sports, other colleges were questioned.

On Feb. 23, Yahoo Sports released a report about possible schools implicated in a sports agency corruption case. The FBI, not the NCAA, is the agency running the official investigation of these allegations, however, the FBI has not officially released any documentation on the ongoing investiagions.

John Brown University women’s basketball coach Jeff Soderquist said this published report could include schools that used a wide range monetary value.  Soderquist said it could be a few years before the public sees an official FBI report.

“Right now we’re just [waiting], so I don’t think any programs are going to take action,” Soderquist said.

One reason bribery may be a problem in the NCAA, Soderquist said, is the one-and-done rule.  This rule does not allow basketball players to play in the NBA right after high school. Instead, they have to find a college for at least one year.

Soderquist said a complete overhaul of the NCAA rules may need to occur before things get better.

Carlson Wakefield, a student at JBU, said, “I think that there’s way more corruption than even the FBI has found, just because of the nature of the organization. The teams shouldn’t do it, because there’s rules against it, but in my opinion, there shouldn’t be those rules. Players should get paid.”

There are many consequences colleges might face if the FBI finds enough evidence to accuse them of bribery.  “Coaches can get fired, players can be ineligible to play, teams could lose championships if they’re found out,” Wakefield said.  “There’s a pretty big fallout from this investigation.”

One reason students need extra money, Soderquist said, is because they come from low-income families. Some schools prevent students from working when they have a full-ride which inhibits them from making any spare money.

Since the beginning of the investigation, Wakefield said there have been two major bribery corruptions found by the FBI.  “The two really major ones are Louisville and Arizona,” Wakefield said. “Louisville had to vacate their national title from a few years ago because of the evidence found against them.”

Even if the NCCA or the NBA changes their rules, Soderquist said that coaches and players will still cheat.

“The problem is morality. You can’t govern morality and you’re always going to have people cheating,” Soderquist said.  “You’re going to have to keep trying to find those people.”