Kansas linked to college basketball scandal in Yahoo Sports report
Lubbock, Texas — For the first time, Kansas basketball on Friday morning became linked to the FBI’s investigation into widespread corruption in college basketball.
According to a report published by Yahoo Sports, documents from the investigation show that Apples Jones, the mother of former KU standout and current Phoenix Suns rookie Josh Jackson, received a loan from a sports agency sometime before Jackson left for the NBA.
The Yahoo Sports article states that Christian Dawkins, a former associate of one-time NBA agent Andy Miller, sought reimbursement of $2,700 loaned to Jackson’s mother.
One expense report reviewed and made public by Yahoo cited a $1,700 advance to Jones in February 2016. Jackson, who was also recruited by Arizona and Michigan State, committed to KU in April 2016.
“Not true,” Jones told the Journal-World. “I don’t even know why I was mentioned. I don’t know why my name was brought up. Not true at all.”
Early Friday night, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self reacted to the report.
“After reading the article this morning, like most of us involved in college athletics, we’re hearing and learning about it for the first time,” Self said in a statement released to the media. “I, along with our administration, am evaluating the credibility of the information related to Kansas. I do know for sure that we did not use Miller’s agency for recruiting purposes or any purpose.”
The Yahoo report said hundreds of federal documents pertaining to the investigation were reviewed for the story.
In addition to Jackson, who left Kansas for the NBA last summer after one season, those documents link current college players, including Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Duke’s Wendell Carter and Alabama’s Collin Sexton, to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules.
According to the report, players and family members allegedly received cash, entertainment and travel expenses from Miller and his agency ASM Sports.
The article also states Miller, who has not been charged in the case and is believed to be cooperating with the government, “relinquished his NBA Players Association agent certification in the wake of the probe.”
As has been the case since last September, when federal criminal charges were levied against 10 people associated with college basketball, including assistant coaches, shoe executives and an agent, the FBI’s investigation is ongoing and could hang over the sport for years.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, in a statement released early Friday morning, said the allegations in the Yahoo report, “if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”
Emmert said the NCAA Board of Governors and recently formed independent Commission on College Basketball are committed to “making transformational changes” and will cooperate with federal prosecutors to “identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”
The documents posted Friday by Yahoo also list loans to players who, at the time, were outside the NCAA’s student-athlete system and were already considered professionals.
One of those players was former KU guard Elijah Johnson, who is listed on a December 2015 balance sheet next to a $15,020 loan. Johnson graduated from KU in 2013. Based on the document posted by Yahoo, it is unclear when Johnson received the loan.
Johnson signed with ASM Sports before the 2013 NBA Draft and was represented by agent Stephen Pina. Pina is linked to several cases involving impermissible payments to high school and college players, according to Yahoo’s report.
Johnson went undrafted by the NBA but played professionally overseas.
When the FBI charges first became public last fall, just four schools — Arizona, Auburn, Louisville and Oklahoma State — were connected to the scandal. On Friday, the Yahoo report implicated nearly 25 more in some manner, including KU and fellow blue bloods Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina.
Throughout the day, athletic directors from some of those schools and others in the report released statements.
Said Duke athletic director Kevin White: “A Duke student-athlete was identified in a Yahoo! Sports report this morning about men’s college basketball. Duke immediately reviewed the matter and, based on the available information, determined there are no eligibility issues related to today’s report. Duke has already contacted the NCAA and will continue to work collaboratively with the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke has an uncompromising commitment to compliance in athletics. That has not, and will not, change.”
Added Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright in an email to the Wichita Eagle, responding to former WSU guard Fred Van Vleet’s name appearing in the Yahoo report: “We are dedicated to conducting all aspects of Wichita State’s intercollegiate athletic programs with integrity and in full compliance with NCAA and American Athletic Conference rules. We have no knowledge of the transactions described in the Yahoo report published this morning. We will fully cooperate with any formal inquiries from NCAA or legal authorities regarding this matter.”
— Journal-World Sports Editor Tom Keegan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.