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Archive for Saturday, May 4, 2013

Report: McLemore’s AAU coach took agent money

Kansas guard Ben McLemore slaps hands with KU fans following his 36-point effort, the most by a freshman since Danny Manning, following the Jayhawks' 91-65 win over West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore slaps hands with KU fans following his 36-point effort, the most by a freshman since Danny Manning, following the Jayhawks' 91-65 win over West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

May 4, 2013, 9:11 p.m. Updated May 5, 2013, 12:10 a.m.

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Kansas University’s athletic department is looking into a USA Today report that freshman basketball player Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach received $10,000 and three expense-paid trips to Los Angeles from a middle man who represented agents and financial advisers this past season.

St. Louis-based AAU coach Darius Cobb told the paper that he accepted two cash payments of $5,000 during the 2012-13 season from Rodney Blackstock, the founder of Hooplife Academy, a sports mentoring organization based in Greensboro, N.C.

Cobb said he also went on three trips to Los Angeles and that Richard Boyd, a cousin of McLemore’s, traveled with him on two of them. The trips, USA Today wrote, were for January/February meetings with sports agents and advisers hoping to represent McLemore if he left for the NBA after the season. McLemore has indeed declared for the 2013 NBA Draft.

“Late this afternoon we received an inquiry regarding the relationship between the family of Ben McLemore and a third party, Rodney Blackstock. This was the first time this inquiry had been presented to us,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said in a statement. “In accordance with the conditions and obligations of its membership in the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, the University of Kansas will review the information and process it with both of those entities if necessary. We are not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Zenger told the Journal-World he would have no further comment. Coach Bill Self offered no comment on the matter.

Boyd in an interview with USA Today denied making the trips to Los Angeles. Cobb told USA Today that McLemore knew “little to none” about Blackstock’s financial involvement in the player’s life and did not know Cobb received $10,000 from Blackstock.

However, USA Today reported that Blackstock attended three games at Allen Fieldhouse this past season courtesy of complimentary tickets provided to McLemore by KU. Blackstock, the paper said, also paid the bill ($400 or $500) for McLemore’s birthday party at a Lawrence bowling alley. Cobb also said a payment from Blackstock went toward hotel rooms in Lawrence for some attendees of the birthday party.

USA Today said McLemore’s mom, Sonya Reid, sat with Blackstock at KU’s game versus Texas in Austin.

According to USA Today, McLemore’s amateur status could have been put at risk because of payments Cobb said he accepted from Blackstock. USA Today writes that an athlete’s family members, friends and coaches cannot accept money or gifts from agents or anyone working for them.

Cobb said Blackstock gave him money because he wanted Cobb to direct McLemore to Blackstock. Cobb told USA Today that Blackstock introduced McLemore’s family to multiple Los Angeles-based sports agents during the season. Cobb also told USA Today that he had, on occasion, helped the family financially by paying bills and buying McLemore clothes and food. The paper indicated Cobb was on McLemore’s guest list for five home games this season, and Cobb said he also attended some road games.

Cobb told USA Today he has come forward because he wants to educate families of players and expose those who pursue amateur college athletes and their families.

“Let me be the crooked AAU coach. I was willing to take the brunt of it for the sake of this kid. I wanted to keep him pure,” Cobb told the paper.

USA Today reports that, in the past, the NCAA has handled similar situations on a case-by-case basis. If McLemore’s amateur status was compromised last season, it is believed KU could risk forfeiting games in which he played.

Editor's Note: Because of a glitch in our software, the comments counter on this story combines the total of comments on both the LJWorld.com and KUsports.com versions of this story, even though each story (while identical) has its own set of comments. Please go to the other version of the story to see the additional comments. Thank you.

Comments

Nikonman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Are student athletes living in poverty? Hardly. They get free meals, lodging, medical care, tuition, books, tutoring and anything else they can get off the record. All they need is a little spending money. It's all tax free and when they leave school, they are not 30 to 50K in debt. So when so many things or services are free, why wouldn't he assume the trips were free?

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lawrenceloser 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Everyone's doing it. Just that some get caught. You can't tell me this is going on with 60 other schools as well.

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Brian Conrad 11 months, 3 weeks ago

yes the bad guy is the Agent. my problem with our program is no one questioned this guy paying for the party? the rooms? sitting with Ben's mom? come on some one in the department needs to cut in and say look NO AGENTS GET TICKETS PERIOD !!! If the AAU coach took payments and did not report , let the IRS have him. and if the Agent gave cash knowing no tax would be paid .. let the IRS at him... time these Agents get the brunt of their actions. we are not UK ... USA today needs to crawl up in Lexington for a real story. maybe they are to afraid of what they will find.

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Beth Ennis 11 months, 3 weeks ago

How is a university suppose to control what a former coach does? Of course a player will give some of his free tickets to a former coach; nothing nefarious in that. I just can't believe how stupid these NCAA rules are. Punish the AAU coach; don't allow any of their players to play in the NCAA for a year or certain number of years. KU or any university cannot possibly control what a former coach does.

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James Minor 11 months, 3 weeks ago

One idea on reducing the risk of agents going after athletes is for the University to question the people the athlete is requesting tickets for. In Ben's case he was starting to be recognized as a lottery pick and now his mom is taking people to his games. How the University could identify a person who is trying to take advantage of them is difficult. But, maybe talking to the athlete and asking them some questions and reminding them of the rules may help.

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MacHeath 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I have a question about one and dones. What sort of academic standards are they held to? It seems to me that if they kept up grades for one semester, they could let the second semester go to flanders.

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MacHeath 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I hate to say it, but it is hard to believe that McLemore didn't have a good understanding about what was going on. What will happen to McLemore? Nothing. What will happen to Blackstock? Nothing. What will happen to Cobb and McLemore's cousin? Nothing, because what they all did was not illegal. Stupid and immoral, in violation of NCAA rules, but not illegal.

I believe Blackstock was trying to play the game to his own advantage. Why else would a dude with a charitable organization throw money around like that? He was trying to help McLemore? Hell no, he was helping himself. McLemore and his family fell into Blackstock's scam hook, line and sinker.

I don't think Self understood what was going on. Self isn't going to tolerate one individuals self-interest against the entire Basketball program. I am glad we didn't win the NCAA now. How bad would that be for KU? I shudder to think. NCAA rules may be wrong, but they are what they are.

No more one and dones!! I never liked that idea from many different levels. You don't have the kid around long enough to understand what is going on with him. We should be interested in athlete-students willing to commit to and education, which can include Basketball.

I'm done...

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toe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

College sports and education. What a joke.

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freeadvice 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree one and done players should not be recruited, but no one can tell any player he has to stay for 4 years. IMO the NCAA should not be regulating people's ability to make money. Why should players have to be broke while the schools and NCAA make billions off of them?

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James Minor 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The message to any athlete is if an agent or AAU coach is willing to jeopardize your college's future and your future, think about what he will do when he tries to manage your money. The agent knows the rules and that the NCAA is serious. If Ben has any smarts about his future, do not hire this slug of an agent or the AAU coach to represent him. Or, 10 years from now Ben will be returning to poverty.

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Lori Nation 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If your playing on a scholarship, then make the rules to state each player must play the four years before leaving to be greedy!

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msezdsit 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Parasites. This also gets back to the NCAA being a very unrealistic organization. These kids shouldn't have to live in poverty so that one day they will be squeaky clean with the NCAA. They are kids and they will have adults around them. The kids can't be held responsible to be the adults in those situations.

Wonder who did what to step on this guys toes so he had to put himself in the news. Maybe a pay off from another school/coach?

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lawrenceloser 11 months, 3 weeks ago

You can't pin this on Ben. He knew nothing and what he did he honestly didn't know it was okay or not.

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oletimer 11 months, 3 weeks ago

this is why I hate one and done players. they have no intention of doing anything but play one year at college level and move on making millions. they will take any money and gifts given to them and not give a crap

3

DRsmith 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Uh oh, I think you have to fire HCBS after this latest incident. You throw in the Arther deal and now this, it is clear he has no control over the program. Cheaters.

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SPKU 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks, NBA. Without your silly rule that a player must be removed from high school one year, this doesn't happen.

Funny how hockey and baseball don't have one-and-done rules. At least four 18-year olds played in the NHL this year.

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MacHeath 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Blackstock was the fool that instigated all this mess. He should be the one hung out to dry. Its sounds like he is the one that will loose the least in this mess. There just isn't anything right about that.

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gccs14r 11 months, 3 weeks ago

How about making anyone who violates NCAA rules ineligible to participate in the violated sport at any level (K-12, college, NBA, international, Olympic) for five years for each year in which an infraction occurred? That would put an end to all of this immediately.

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riverdrifter 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's make it real simple: AAU players = NCAA ineligible. Period and end of subject. Problem solved. The AAU is a swamp.

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Robert Rauktis 11 months, 3 weeks ago

These sort of families can't be legally qualified to read the fine print that's supposed to keep these parasites at bay. It's less intrusive than the Duke players jewelry. Was there even an advantage gained? And the player grills his "respected" figure at nineteen so they know how to cross examine motives? This well illustrates how the current system is unmanageable. KU welcome to UK.

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blondejuan 11 months, 3 weeks ago

NCAA let this go. It's the AAU coach that was wrong.

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Number_1_Grandma 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Great.... KU about to be lubed by NCAA.

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