NEW YORK– Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says he was not shocked by the FBI investigation into college basketball because of the history of federal law enforcement investigating the sport.
Last month, ten men, including a senior Adidas official and four prominent college assistant coaches, were arrested and charged with using thousands of dollars in bribes to steer recruits to specific programs and NBA bound players to shoe sponsors, agents and financial advisors and even clothiers. So far, the scandal has not impacted the BIG. But one high profile Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino of Louisville, has been fired after the school’s athletic board acted on reports that one of his assistants allegedly planned to funnel $100,000 to the family of a high profile recruit, Brian Bowen, who enrolled at the school
“Yeah, we’re all concerned and we should be,” he said. “We don’t know what we don’t know. We sort of know what you know, what we read in the paper. We’ve had no contact with the government.”
Delany has seen the worst in college basketball rear its ugly head before.
“I can count nine times during my lifetime, dating back to the point shaving and gambling scandals of the 1950s and 1960s when federal investigators became involved in investigations,” he said at yesterday’s BIG media day.
Long before he became a starting guard at North Carolina and later a conference commissioner, Delany’s childhood memories in North Jersey included memories about one of those scandals at Seton Hall. “I remember waking up one day as a 12-year old and seeing two individuals being taken out of their dormitory in handcuffs by the FBI– alleged engagement in gambling,” Delany said.
Stars Art Hicks and Hank Gunther were found to have shaved points in the 1960-61 season. The Pirates received a three-year ban on postseason play. Bishop John Dougherty, then the president of Seton Hall, considered eliminating the program
Delany has talked to his league’s coaches and athletic directors about this latest scandal. He says he plans to have some discussions and will pass along recommendations Ohio State AD Gene Smith, a member of the the newly formed Commission of Basketball. “I think (NCAA) President (Mark) Emmert put it well, half steps are not sufficient,” he said.
“There are obviously a number of things that could be done structurally, but one of the things that stands out to me is that the first six investigations, it was external people working with players to fix games. In the next three or four, there’s been more engagement on the agent side, still some, perhaps, gambling. But in these most recent cases, there are people inside the our programs. That’s a big difference between being inside and outside.”