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.


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 and 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.


bluefirebird 5 years, 1 month ago

I doubt there was anything KU could have done to prevent this from happening. Hopefully the NCAA doesn't hit us too hard.

DRsmith 5 years, 1 month ago

Well nothing Calipari could have done about Camby taking money or Rose not taking his SAT but that doesn't stop the NCAA from dropping the hammer. You only get a free pass if you are UNC or Duke.

blondejuan 5 years, 1 month ago

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

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 1 month 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.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

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

gccs14r 5 years, 1 month 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.

windjammer 5 years, 1 month ago

So do you really think the NCAA has any jurisdiction over the NBA? Do you even know what the letters NCAA stand for? Nothing will stop this immediately as long as there is money involved.

gccs14r 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm aware that each of the mentioned organizations is autonomous, but that does not preclude cooperation with regard to penalties for infractions.

Scott Patterson 5 years, 1 month 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.

DRsmith 5 years, 1 month 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.

msezdsit 5 years, 1 month ago

It would be pretty hard for Ben to know this and not Self. If Self knew anything about it he probably would have had Ben's birthday party at his house instead.

msezdsit 5 years, 1 month 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?

Lori Nation 5 years, 1 month 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!

James Minor 5 years, 1 month 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.

James Minor 5 years, 1 month 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.

Beth Ennis 5 years, 1 month 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.

Brian Conrad 5 years, 1 month 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.

Nikonman 5 years, 1 month 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?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.