UK Men's Basketball

‘Never met this fool’: Father of UK player denies connection to Christian Dawkins

The father of one of two Kentucky players mentioned in an ESPN story detailing an aspiring agent’s plan to make under-the-table payments in a pay-for-play scheme strongly denied his son was involved in any way.

Christian Dawkins, one of three people convicted of felony conspiracy to commit wire fraud during a highly publicized trial involving college basketball corruption, is the aspiring agent.

The two UK players mentioned in ESPN’s story are Ashton Hagans and Jarred Vanderbilt.

“I don’t understand why everybody is trying to make something of it,” Marvin Hagans said Thursday. “Clearly, in the article, (Dawkins) said he planned (to pay players). ‘Planned’ means that’s what he wanted to do.

“We don’t know this guy. We never met this fool a day in our life.”

The ESPN story details a business plan Dawkins emailed to partners on Sept. 5, 2017. He proposed monthly payments totaling thousands of dollars to players at 12 Division I schools and highly rated prospects in the classes of 2019 and 2020.

Besides Hagans and Vanderbilt, other players mentioned in Dawkins’ business plan included Collin Sexton, who played at Alabama, Lamar Peters, who plays for Mississippi State, current Louisville player V.J. King and former Cardinal Ray Spalding.

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Ashton Hagans, a freshman from Cartersville, Ga., started for Kentucky during its season-opening game against Duke on Tuesday night. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Dawkins proposed a monthly payment of $2,000 to Hagans from October 2017 to October of this year, the ESPN story says. Then the monthly payment would increase to $3,000 through April of 2020.

“I own my own business,” the elder Hagans said. “Ashton doesn’t need nothing from no one. We don’t know that guy. I promise you we don’t. . . . We don’t know this dude.”

According to the ESPN story, Dawkins proposed extending a $100,000 line of credit to Vanderbilt. He also suggested a $25,000 advance on Vanderbilt’s marketing revenue if the UK player was projected as a lottery pick at the end of the 2017-18 season.

Of course, foot injuries sidelined Vanderbilt for all but 14 games in 2017-18, his only season on Kentucky’s team.

People close to Vanderbilt, who now plays for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, could not be reached for comment.

UK Coach John Calipari offered reassurance to fans.

“Our administration and compliance (department) are so thorough — doubly thorough — that I trust everything is fine,” Calipari said. “They get parents involved. They go to a point where it’s uncomfortable for me.”

Calipari suggested this effort to comply with rules frees him to concentrate on coaching UK’s basketball team.

“I’m not listening,” he said of updates on the investigation into corruption. “I don’t care. I’m not hearing anything. My whole mindset is how do I coach this team to get them on the path that they get it. Where the light bulb goes (on), and they all say, wow.”

UK released a statement on the ESPN report. It read:

“We remain committed to compliance in all facets of our athletics department. All of our student-athletes undergo a thorough review process to ensure their eligibility. With the full cooperation of our student-athletes and their families, the compliance department works closely with the NCAA Eligibility Center and the Southeastern Conference throughout the entire amateurism certification process. At this time there is no change in the eligibility of any of our current or former students.”

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Jarred Vanderbilt, whose name also appeared in the ESPN report, sat out most of his only season at Kentucky because of a foot injury. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com
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