People close to two Kentucky players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report alleging widespread abuses in college basketball’s recruiting process vouched for the players’ intention to follow rules and guidelines.
The players mentioned were Kevin Knox, a freshman and leading scorer on this season’s UK team, and Bam Adebayo, who played for UK as a freshman last season.
“As far as I know, Bam has never taken a dime from anybody,” said Brandon Clifford, who coached Adebayo at High Point Christian Academy in Little Washington, N.C. “He committed himself to doing things the right way.”
Clifford said he had spoken to Adebayo since the Yahoo Sports report became public knowledge Friday.
“I asked him about it,” Clifford said. “I said, ‘Are you good?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s pretty much it.”
At the regular day-before-the-game news conference Friday afternoon, UK Coach John Calipari said he had not spoken to Knox. When asked if Knox would play against Missouri on Saturday, a trace of doubt crept into Calipari’s voice.
“At this point, I believe so,” he said. “I mean, if there is something I don’t know . . .”
At that point, and for the second time in about the three minutes devoted to the Yahoo Sports story, Deputy Athletics Director DeWayne Peevy asked reporters to refrain from asking questions about that topic. Peevy opened the eight-minute news conference by saying earlier statements released by UK would be the only comments available.
“Coach Calipari is here today to talk about tomorrow’s game,” Peevy said. “If you don’t have any questions about that, we can let him go to practice.”
Calipari said he did not know if the Yahoo Sports story would distract his players.
“I know nothing more than you guys know,” he said when asked for his reaction to the Yahoo Sports story. “That’s why there’s no reason for me to speak on it. You guys know what I know.”
Peevy first tried to move the news conference away from the Yahoo Sports story when Calipari was asked if a player’s eligibility could be affected.
The Yahoo Sports report centered around the involvement of an agency, ASM Sports, building relationships with prospects in hopes of the players eventually signing with the agency. The report detailed what it called an “underground recruiting operation” that involved such high-profile programs as Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina as well as Kentucky.
The Yahoo report linked Adebayo to payments of $12,000 and also $36,500. According to documents obtained by Yahoo Sports, ASM Sports labeled the latter dollar figure a “bad loan” after Adebayo signed with another agency after completing his one season for Kentucky.
Agents Christian Dawkins and/or Andy Miller met with Knox, according to the Yahoo Sports report.
“I personally have never met Christian Dawkins nor Andy Miller,” the player’s father, Kevin Knox Sr., said. “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.”
In his statement, Calipari also said he did not know Dawkins nor Miller.
“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates,” Calipari said in the 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.”
A subcommittee of the UK Board of Trustees that deals with athletics met Friday morning. UK President Eli Capilouto said the school would immediately begin “our due diligence” and “cooperate fully” with investigations.
Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart said the school had not been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the NCAA. He also said UK had called the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference office.
Before UK played at Arkansas on Tuesday, Barnhart voiced confidence in his department’s desire to follow NCAA rules.
“I believe in the compliance program we have in place,” he said. “We have high quality coaches throughout the program.”
Barnhart lauded the guidelines originally put in place by executive associate A.D. Sandy Bell to ensure compliance. Another executive associate A.D., Rachel Baker, and associate AD for compliance Kevin Sergent continued that work, Barnhart said.
“So I am confident in our processes and the people within our structure and our building,” Barnhart said. “And that we think we have a good group.”
Clifford asked that fans and others do not rush to judgment.
“It’s terribly unfortunate that the court of public opinion will convict him,” Clifford said of Adebayo. “You have a star athlete that’s 16 or 17 years old. They’re not calling the shots. Bam wouldn’t even talk to college coaches without it coming through me or his family.
“I would just encourage people to give it time and let the truth come out on it in due time.”