To Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the best-case scenario from the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, which involving some schools in his own conference, is for the sport to emerge from it in a better place than it was before.
“I hope that whatever the processes, whether it’s the FBI or NCAA or institutional type things, I hope that whatever is done makes college basketball a better sport,” Bowlsby said. “I think (basketball) has all the best part of college athletics and all the worst part of college athletics.”
The worst parts have been in the news for about 1 1/2 years, starting with the announcement of a years-long FBI investigation with wiretaps, recordings and financial records that uncovered evidence of widespread corruption involving men’s basketball programs, shoe companies and agents. Ten were arrested, including assistant coaches at Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona and Southern California.
Last October, a jury determined that an Adidas executive and two others were guilty on all counts of committing wire fraud as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of recruits to Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina State.
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Communication between members of KU’s coaching staff and Adidas reps was mentioned in the first corruption trial. There is nothing scheduled regarding possible testimony to be given from KU coaches at the next two trials scheduled for the spring in New York.
The process continues to play out. Kansas coach Bill Self said earlier this week that his school will “look forward” to having its say.
Bowlsby, who has been the athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa and chairman of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee, said the current troubles shouldn’t define college sports
“There are terrific young people and coaches who are doing it the right way,” Bowlsby said. “They constitute the vast majority in my opinion. But that isn’t to say shouldn’t aggressively seek to discipline those not doing it the right way.”
The Big 12 also was part of the most recent FBI investigation, the college entrance cheating scandal that was revealed this week. Some 50 people took part in a scheme that involved either cheating on standardized tests or bribing college coaches and school officials to accept students as athletes, even the student had never played the sport.
Texas men’s tennis coach Michael Center, who coached and played at Kansas, was fired on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Center is accused of accepting $100,000 in 2015 as a bribe to designate a student from Los Altos Hills, Calif., who did not play competitive tennis as a recruit.
Center played tennis at KU from 1983-86 and was a Big Eight singles champion. He coached the Kansas women’s team from 1989-92 and the KU men’s team from 1996-96.
Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman also are among those charged.
“Just when you think you’ve heard it all…It never occurred to me that somebody would be doing this stuff,” Bowlsby said. “The real victim is the kid who got bounced out (of admission) because somebody else got in.”