ACC Offseason Storylines: FBI Brings the Hammer to Louisville and Miami

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 17th, 2017

We are now a little over three weeks away from opening night in college basketball, so it’s time to start our preseason coverage here at the ACC microsite. Over the next several weeks we will preview the fortunes of all 15 ACC schools by projecting how each squad will maximize its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses, and we will also be reporting from ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte later this month. But first, let’s catch up on a few of the most important storylines in the ACC since North Carolina captured its sixth NCAA Championship in Glendale last April.

FBI Case Rocks the College Basketball World

Louisville’s Rick Pitino became the first major casualty of the FBI Investigation into College Hoops Recruiting. (Getty Images)

On September 26, we learned in a dramatic morning announcement that even the NCAA was not aware of that the FBI has been investigating the college basketball recruiting scene. Four NCAA assistant coaches were charged with accepting bribes to steer players to pro agents and/or financial advisors, while six other individuals were also arrested, including several Adidas employees who were accused of arranging cash payouts for recruits and their families as incentives to join their sponsored college programs. Two of the schools involved are ACC members Louisville and Miami.

As soon as the FBI news broke and the Louisville program was implicated in the report, pressure immediately began mounting on head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. By the next morning, we knew that neither luminary would survive this scandal, the latest in a string of sordid revelations involving the program. Pitino was officially fired yesterday. Understandably, the university could not tolerate further violations and embarrassments in the midst of a probation currently being served for 2015’s stripper scandal. Even more damning for Pitino is news that his voice is allegedly on an FBI tape as a direct participant in the pay-for-play scheme. Two Cardinals’ assistants have also been placed on administrative leave, leaving former Louisville player David Padgett to pick up the pieces this season as the school’s interim head coach. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the school try to get out in front of the NCAA’s inevitable return to campus with another round of self-imposed penalties that includes a postseason ban.

At this point in an admittedly early investigation, Miami’s situation does not on its face appear quite as severe. At least for now, the Hurricanes are mostly suffering on the recruiting trail. The news resulted in the Hurricanes losing their status as a contender for 2018 five-star prospect Nassir Little – who could in fact be involved in the FBI investigation – who subsequently committed to North Carolina. One of the nation’s top high school juniors, Vernon Carey, also recently removed Miami from his consideration – the Hurricanes were thought to be his leader  before the FBI case became public. These are major hits to a program that appeared on the cusp of becoming a major national player over the next few seasons.

The FBI says that its investigation is ongoing, so there’s no telling how far and wide this scandal will ultimately reach. And the NCAA will certainly have its hands full sorting things out from a rules perspective. Job one should be to determine eligibility for any current players tied to the investigation. But to do that promptly, it will require all of the involved schools – even those we don’t know about publicly – to swiftly conduct internal investigations and work with the NCAA to resolve individual cases. We expect this messy situation to haunt the entire 2017-18 college basketball season well beyond the impact on the two ACC schools.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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One response to “ACC Offseason Storylines: FBI Brings the Hammer to Louisville and Miami”

  1. vonbock says:

    Don’t get it. Why is the FBI involved in enforcing NCAA rules? What real laws were or are being broken. This is still America. One man’s bribe is another man’s finders fee. If anything, this could be an IRS problem if the principals didn’t declare the income. You can’t even enjoy a concert without keeping your head on a swivel anymore. Thanks FBI, am feeling much safer now………

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