The seedy underbelly of major college sports recruiting — which is Nic Cage at the end of “Leaving Las Vegas” ugly — has been pushed into the spotlight by an investigation by federal prosecutors, with a little help from the FBI. There have been arrests — including former NBA Rookie of the Year Chuck Person — and at least one coach in Louisville’s Rick Pitino forced out due to the charges. And there is more to come.
Does all of this tie into the NBA?
The players union is looking into it, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
On Tuesday, Roberts directed the NBPA general counsel, Gary Kohlman, to direct his staff to determine if any of the named defendants have relationships with NBA players and what relationships the defendants have with agents or other financial advisers who are known to be dealing with NBA players.
“We are going to be rigorous in making sure that anybody who is engaged in this misconduct is out, at least in terms of being certified by this [players association] to continue to work with our players,” Roberts told The Vertical.
That is the leverage the union has here, it certifies NBA player agents. There have been no charges yet against an agent, but the investigation did touch Andy Miller, a prominent agent.
As part of the investigation, the FBI raided the office of Andy Miller, according to multiple reports. Miller, one of the NBA’s most prominent agents, is the founder of ASM Sports. Christian Dawkins, one of 10 people arrested Tuesday, is a former agent at ASM. Dawkins was fired by ASM in May for allegedly charging $42,000 in Uber rides to a client’s credit card.
(Damn, that’s a lot of Uber… how far was he going?)
It’s smart for the players’ union to be on top of this, they don’t want the scandal to taint their players or the NBA.
However, Roberts is a lawyer, and she may need to start her investigation with this question: Did the agents actually break the law? Some (at least second hand) unquestionably violated NCAA regulations, and that organization (and its member universities) can punish as they see fit. But is trying to steer a young player to a particular financial planner or shoe company — even if money is thrown around — a federal crime? The Wall Street Journal asked that question and found that plenty of prosecutors question if it is. Obviously, the New York prosecutors on the case feel differently, but that issue does not yet seem settled.
But you can be sure the tentacles of this investigation are still reaching out.