The FBI’s probe into the seedy underworld of college basketball is sure to provide a consistent drip of bad news for programs across the country. That it’s already led to the resignation of a former NCAA official indicates whatever ugliness we’ve seen already is just the beginning.
Wednesday night, Alabama accepted the resignation of men’s basketball administrator Kobie Baker after an internal review. Baker’s previous job: assistant director of enforcement at the NCAA.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne issued the following statement on the matter: “Following yesterday’s reports from New York regarding a Federal investigation of intercollegiate athletics, The University of Alabama Department of Athletics immediately initiated an internal review of our men’s basketball operations. As a result, we have accepted the resignation effective today of Kobie Baker, a men’s basketball administrator. Our review has not identified any NCAA or SEC rules violations nor the involvement of any other coach or staff member. We have notified both of the governing bodies of the actions we have taken. As always, we will continue to be proactive in our compliance efforts.”
According to a story in the Tuscaloosa News on Wednesday night, Baker’s resignation is directly tied to the FBI investigation. Alabama’s internal review points to Baker as “Staff Member-1” in the federal complaint released Tuesday, which alleges that the unnamed staffer was involved in a scheme to accept money in return for directing a “highly regarded incoming freshman basketball player” to sign with a financial adviser after declaring for the NBA draft.
The federal complaint says in the first nine months of 2017, financial adviser Rashan Michel “facilitated the payment of approximately $25,000 to … (Staff Member-1).” On Aug. 31, the complaint says, Michel arranged a meeting at an Atlanta restaurant between himself, the staffer Alabama identified as Baker, a witness cooperating with the FBI, and the father of the incoming freshman player.
Collin Sexton, the No. 8 player in the Class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, is from Mableton, Ga., just outside of Atlanta. He was the only 2017 recruit from the state of Georgia signed by the school.
The purpose of the meeting, according to the complaint, was for Baker to make introductions between the player’s father and the financial adviser, and ultimately steer the prospect to him once he entered the NBA draft. The complaint says the feds’ cooperating witness gave Michel $10,000 that was to be given to Baker for arranging the meeting.
For someone who formerly worked as one of the NCAA rules cops to be caught up in this, on the heels of the bombshell dropped by the feds Tuesday, hints at the profound credibility problems facing the sport.
Baker worked in NCAA enforcement from October 2014 to September 2015, according to his LinkedIn bio. He then joined the Alabama athletic department that September.
For someone who formerly worked as one of the NCAA rules cops to be caught up in whatever Alabama found, on the heels of the bombshell dropped by the feds Tuesday, hints at the profound credibility problems facing the sport.
On Tuesday, the FBI revealed an operation that ensnared the basketball programs at Auburn, Louisville, Miami, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma State and USC; the Adidas shoe and apparel operation; and multiple agents or financial advisers. A prominent basketball agent, Andy Miller, reportedly had his computer seized, as well. There were additional reports of the FBI broadening its probe to the Nike Grass Roots Basketball organization Wednesday. Multiple schools have had FBI agents on campus, including Louisville.
The scandal already has ended the Louisville tenure of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and his accomplished athletic director, Tom Jurich. Other jobs could clearly be in jeopardy, as well, at Louisville and beyond. And there is no telling when or where this FBI probe could go.
But when former NCAA compliance workers are part of the fallout, the sport is in uncharted territory of trouble.