Report: Kentucky basketball players among those linked to potential NCAA violations

Fletcher Page
Courier Journal
Former Kentucky Wildcats and current Miami Heat rookie Bam Adebayo does the "Y "during the second half against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY., on February 17, 2018.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The names of University of Kentucky basketball standout Kevin Knox and two former players have surfaced in documents showing potential financial improprieties involving former NBA agent Andy Miller.

The documents obtained by Yahoo Sports include financial spreadsheets from Miller's ASM Sports agency. They also detail improper payments — and potential violations of NCAA regulations — involving current and former players at Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and other schools

In addition to Knox, the Wildcats' current leading scorer, the papers name former UK forwards Bam Adebayo and Nerlens Noel.

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From the report: 

An ASM balance sheet in the hands of federal investigators shows accounts through Dec. 31, 2015, with the subheading, “Loan to Players.” It listed several who were in high school or college as receiving four-figure and five-figure payments from ASM Sports. 

... A listing that refers to “BAM” for $12,000 is later identified in the documents as Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, who would go on to play at Kentucky in 2016-17. He did not sign with ASM. There’s a later reference to Adebayo that says he received $36,500. “Bad loan,” reads the document.

Adebayo averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a Kentucky freshman last season. He was selected No. 14 overall in the NBA draft by the Miami Heat in June. 

Knox, the freshman forward who is averaging 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, was listed among players as meeting with or having meals with Christian Dawkins, an associate of Miller. 

“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates," Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a statement. "Neither my staff nor I utilized any agent, including Andy Miller or any of his associates, to provide any financial benefits to a current or former Kentucky student-athlete. We will cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities.”

Kentucky coach John Caipari takes questions from reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon in Lexington.
February 23, 2018

Duke's Wendell Carter, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and North Carolina's Tony Bradley, among others, were included with Knox.

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From the report: 

Additional Dawkins expense reports list meals and meetings with players or their families while in college or high school, and before they turned pro. While small amounts, these could be categorized as extra benefits under NCAA rules. It appears Dawkins paid for the meals, which could be an important distinction.

While three criminal cases tied to the investigation may take years to play out, the documents viewed by Yahoo revealed the extent of the potential NCAA ramifications from the case. The documents show an underground recruiting operation that could create NCAA rules issues – both current and retroactive – for at least 20 Division I basketball programs and more than 25 players.

Noel, who played one season at Kentucky from 2012-13, was listed as receiving a loan totaling $4,350. 

Notable former collegiate players who received five-figure payments included: N.C. State's Dennis Smith, Seton Hall's Isaiah Whitehead, LSU's Tim Quarterman and Maryland's Diamond Stone. 

NCAA President Mark Emmert released the following statement Friday morning:

"These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America," Emmert said in the release. "Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said the school "began immediately to conduct our due diligence" when notified late Thursday night the Yahoo Sports report was set to publish. 

“As I said to our Board of Trustees this morning, we learned late last night of a report from Yahoo Sports that provides more details regarding documents related to the federal investigation of potential NCAA violations," Capilouto said in a statement. "We began immediately to conduct our due diligence, and we will cooperate fully with any appropriate authorities. That is our commitment as a university to our Board of Trustees and to the Commonwealth. I will keep you informed of any developments should they arise in this matter.”

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