The US Attorney’s press conference revealed more details about the investigation into college basketball
Shortly after releasing charging documents alleging fraud and corruption in the world of college basketball recruiting, the United States Attorney’s Office held a press conference led by the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim to outline additional details regarding the charges.
Here’s a look at the biggest takeaways from that press conference.
1. College basketball was set up for this
Perhaps the most enlightening moment of the press conference came when Kim was asked who the victim as a result of these alleged crimes. Despite outlining how advisors and coaches had allegedly taken advantage of the trust of some of the nation’s top recruits, Kim referenced only the colleges and universities affected.
The truth is that this investigation is born out of one of the dumbest things about college basketball. In a sport with significant revenue, players remain unpaid (or at least significantly underpaid) for labor and in black market economies like this one, there is always an incentive for under the table dealings to get fair value.
Simply put: pay the players a fair wage and you’ll take away the incentives for corruption, then you likely wouldn’t have this problem.
2. The scope of the investigation was massive
Kim detailed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the USAO came to bring these charges. The investigation began with a cooperating witness who was previously charged with securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is certainly not uncommon for individuals charged with a crime to flip on others in order to gain leniency.
As a result of that witness, the investigators used several undercover agents and wire taps to arrange what were essentially sting operations against the assistant basketball coaches and company executives identified in the complaints.
3. There’s more to come
Perhaps the most concerning thing for the world of college basketball is that the investigation is not over. “Our investigation is ongoing and we are conducting additional interviews as we speak,” said an FBI official at the press conference. Kim also encouraged additional witnesses to come forward. “Today’s arrests should be considered a warning to others…We have your playbook.”
You can also now expect the NCAA to get involved. Kim made it clear that until today, the NCAA was in the dark regarding the federal government’s investigation. That could have serious ramifications for programs even if the coaches involved are not caught up in the legal dragnet.