My original plan tonight was to write a nice, long overview of the NCAA scandal that was farther unveiled early Friday morning with the release of financial records of ASM Sports, an agency used by many former college basketball players. That plan was scrapped as soon I saw the biggest news of the night just come across my screen:
Breaking: Sources say FBI wiretaps intercepted Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins discussing a payment of $100,000 to ensure star freshman DeAndre Ayton signed with Arizona. pic.twitter.com/TUajew2ouu
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 24, 2018
This is YUUUUUUGEEE! Shit is hitting the fan across the NCAA. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark Emmert and the rest of the NCAA heads were to all drink poison together like a scene from Jonestown. In all seriousness though, we are in the midst of maybe the most pivotal moment in college sports history.
The initial report is that FBI wiretaps intercepted a conversation between Miller and Christian Dawkins, the ASM runner named in the report this morning as well, discussing a $100,000 wire transfer to land Ayton. According to sources cited by ESPN, in the call, Miller tells Dawkins to work with Emanuel “Book” Richardson to deal with money. Richardson was already one of the four assitant coaches arrested by the FBI back in September. Not much is known about the sitution as of right now, but the effects will be felt soon.
In Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, Arizona is ranked as a 4 seed. The #14 team in the country, Arizona has overcome an early rough stretch to amass a 22-6 record this season, including a 12-3 mark in conference play. Ayton, the former 5-star recruit in question, has been one of the best freshmen, if not best players, in major college basketball this season, averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. With the suspensions of San Diego State’s Malik Pope and Texas’ Eric Davis today, I expect Arizona to take swift action in suspending both Ayton and Miller, likely before their game in Eugene, Oregon tomorrow.
This comes on the heels of Arizona star guard Alonzo Trier being ruled ineligible for the rest of the season yesterday due to due testing positive for a banned substance for the second time in two years, despite it not being a new ingestion in what is a weird case in itself.
Who knows when that will be resolved. My guess would be a lot sooner than this FBI probe. Without Trier, Arizona was already in trouble; without Ayton and Miller, this team would most definitely be toast. That might be the least of their concerns right now though.
Heads will start rolling soon and it won’t just be in Tuscon. It might start with the immediate ineligibility of Ayton, but he’s going to be a top pick so he doesn’t have much to lose. If this is all true, Miller would probably lose his job and possible be black balled from college basketball. Teams across the country will feel the effects as this could be the case at dozens of other schools, if the number isn’t in the hundreds. I still think that the NCAA is in the wrong here and that reform is needed, but with the way the organization is run, I doubt that they will budge. For now, Arizona is in big trouble and this story tonight may forever change college basketball as we know it.