Kevin Knox is tied to the basketball recruiting scandal. What does it mean for Kentucky?

Fletcher Page
Courier Journal
Kevin Knox #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after a three pointer against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at the Rupp Arena in Lexington on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Who picked up the lunch tab? 

That's the most important question for Kentucky basketball following a Yahoo Sports' report detailing potential NCAA violations for at least 20 Division I college basketball programs and more than 25 players.

Kevin Knox, the Wildcats leading scorer, allegedly met and could have had lunch with Christian Dawkins, a former associate of ASM Sports agency, according to the documents. 

Did Knox eat a meal? If so, did Dawkins pay for that meal? Can the University of Kentucky's compliance office answer those questions? 

The report:Kentucky players among those linked to potential NCAA violations

Kentucky coach John Calipari denied having any ties to the ASM sports agency, and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said his department, "will be conducting an internal review." 

If Kentucky has not yet answered those questions, Knox could sit out the Wildcats' upcoming games until UK can prove the freshman forward did not receive impermissible benefits.

And without Knox, Kentucky's likelihood to continue its recent run of improved play, in wins against Alabama and Arkansas, greatly diminish. 

This matter will not go unresolved for long. If Knox didn't receive a free lunch, and Kentucky can prove as much (or if a meal provided can't be proven), he's good to play. And there would be no lingering questions about the validity of any of this season's games that featured Knox. Even if Knox did eat for free, if the monetary value of the meal did not exceed $100, according to the NCAA bylaw governing improper benefits, "the eligibility of the student-athlete shall not be affected conditioned upon the student-athlete repaying the value of the benefit to a charity of his or her choice." 

From the NCAA:If allegations against Kentucky players and others are true, then we failed

Previous seasons are a question mark, though, due to Bam Adebayo's and Nerlens Noel's link to ASM. According to the documents, which included expense reports and balance sheets listing loans, cash advances and other benefits for high school and college players and their families, Adebayo received two payments, one for $12,000 and another for $36,000. 

“Bad loan,” the document said about the latter. 

Adebayo, who averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a Kentucky freshman last season, did not sign with ASM. 

The obvious unanswered questions here: When did Adebayo receive this money? Did he pay back the funds for the loan? 

The same goes for Noel, who received a loan of $4,350, according to the document. An ASM balance sheet shows accounts through Dec. 31, 2015, when Noel, who played one season at Kentucky in 2012-13, had already turned pro and was represented by ASM. If so, there's no issue for Noel's involvement as it relates to Kentucky.

See also:Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against 3 men in FBI hoops case

Adebayo, though, was a high school prospect at that time. 

If Adebayo's eligibility was compromised, Kentucky could vacate last season's Elite Eight run. That scenario would cost Calipari victories earned on the court due to NCAA violations at a third institution, joining Memphis (Derrick Rose) and UMass (Marcus Camby). 

To be clear: Calipari is not implicated in these documents for wrongdoing and neither is Kentucky. To this point, from federal documents revealed from the FBI investigation into college basketball, there is no evidence the Wildcats basketball program had any knowledge of these potential impermissible benefits. 

Background:FBI agent in college basketball corruption probe accused of misconduct

Read this:It's a waiting game now with no end in sight in FBI college basketball probe

And if this is the worst of Kentucky's link to the scandal, through a sports agency's attempts to woo players to represent once they turned pro, it's not too bad. Not yet, at least. 

But there are still questions to answer. And perhaps more documents to be published. Kentucky's compliance office will see to the issue with Knox. The rest of us will wait for more information and answers. 

Fletcher Page: fpage@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @FletcherPage. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/fletcherp