Court documents and bank records obtained during the federal investigation into college basketball name current University of Kentucky player Kevin Knox and former players Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Nerlens Noel, Yahoo Sports reported Friday.
The documents list the expenditures of former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports, according to Yahoo. They include expense reports and balance sheets that list cash advances, as well as entertainment and travel expenses for high school and college prospects and their families.
“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates,” UK Coach John Calipari said in a statement released by the university Friday morning. “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.”
UK pushed back Calipari’s originally scheduled pre-Missouri game press conference to later Friday afternoon and announced players would not be made available, a break from the normal routine.
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At the press conference, Calipari and UK’s deputy director of athletics DeWayne Peevy said UK had nothing more to add beyond their earlier statements.
“I know nothing more than you guys know, that’s why there’s no reason for me to speak on it,” Calipari said. “You guys know what I know. ... The statement I made is for me where I stand on this and how I feel about it.”
This is the first time that Kentucky has been linked to the federal investigation announced last September that implicated a number of assistant coaches and programs, including the University of Louisville.
When asked if he thought the controversy would be a distraction for his players, Calipari said, “I haven’t met with them yet, so I don’t know.”
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said Friday morning that he learned of the Yahoo Sports report Thursday night and that the university is “conducting all due diligence” in looking into the matter. Capilouto made the comments at UK’s regularly scheduled Board of Trustees Athletics Committee meeting.
“We will cooperate fully with any appropriate authorities,” Capilouto said. “That is our commitment as a university to our Board of Trustees and to the Commonwealth.”
Also at the meeting Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said he has not been contacted by the FBI, but he has reached out to the NCAA regarding the case.
Knox, a UK freshman this season, is listed among players and/or families listed as meeting with or having meals with Dawkins.
“I personally have never met Christian Dawkins nor Andy Miller,” the player’s father, Kevin Knox Sr., told the Herald-Leader Friday. “Obviously, the university is doing a great job of trying to wrap their arms around it. And so we’re kind of in that no-comment fly zone right now.”
An ASM balance sheet in the hands of federal investigators show 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 or five-figure payments from ASM Sports, the report said.
The listing that refers to “BAM” for $12,000 is later identified in the documents as Adebayo, who would go on to play at Kentucky in 2016-17. He did not sign with ASM. There is a later reference to Adebayo that says he received $36,500. “Bad loan,” reads the document.
“As far as I know, Bam has never taken a dime from anybody,” Brandon Clifford, who coached Adebayo at High Point Christian Academy in Little Washington, N.C., told the Herald-Leader Friday. “He committed himself to doing things the right way.”
Clifford said he talked with Adebayo after the story broke Friday and lamented that public opinion will likely convict him, regardless of the circumstances.
“I asked him about it,” Clifford said. “I said, ‘Are you good?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s pretty much it.”
Nerlens Noel, who played one season at Kentucky from 2012-13, was listed as receiving a loan totaling $4,350.
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, Yahoo Sports reported.
The documents tie some of the biggest names and programs in the sport to activity that appears to violate the NCAA’s amateurism rules, and could cast a pall over the NCAA tournament because of eligibility rules, Yahoo Sports reported.
There are potential impermissible benefits and preferential treatment for players and families of players at Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, Alabama and a host of other schools, Yahoo Sports reported.
In the wake of the September indictment, the University of Louisville fired head coach Rick Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich. In the indictment, payments to Louisville recruit Brian Bowen were allegedly arranged. Though no coaches with Louisville were named in the indictment, Louisville removed Pitino and two assistants in response to the allegations. No one with ties to Louisville has been charged.
While it is unclear what the NCAA will do with information obtained from the investigation, the alleged loans to players are potentially the most problematic. Dinners and other expenses tied to Dawkins could also pose eligibility questions to a lesser extent.
In 2009, Kentucky freshman John Wall, had to sit out two games and repay $787.58 in restitution for benefits deemed to be impermissible by the NCAA. Wall’s AAU coach was found to have been listed as an agent with FIBA.
NCAA officials declined a request for comment ahead of the story’s release, Yahoo Sports reported. But in response to the report Friday, NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement, saying “people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports.”
“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” Emmert said.