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FBI Basketball Probe May Ensnare Dozens of Programs

Paul Steinbach

The number of schools potentially implicated once the FBI completes its months-long investigation into improper college basketball recruiting practices would be enough to more than fill a second-round NCAA tournament bracket.

According to a report at ESPN.com, as many as three dozen programs could face discipline resulting from the scandal that broke Sept. 29, when the the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York revealed that the FBI had uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud at some of the nation's elite basketball institutions. The scope of the scandal has broadened since and is believed likely to ensnare programs such as Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and the University of Southern California. "It's not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top," a source told ESPN. "It's the teams that are already there."

Many of the alleged incidents involve illegal cash payments by shoe manufacturer Adidas to prospects and their families, as well as players and their families receiving tens of thousands of dollars from agents while they were still playing in college. In some cases, NCAA head coaches were aware of the payments. Wiretapped phone conversations — as well as financial records, cell phone records and emails seized by the FBI from NBA agent Andy Miller on the same day in September that the agency arrested 10 men — hold the potential to implicate more than 30 schools and lead to NCAA sanctions for each.

Meanwhile, a federal judge is expected to hear arguments today as to whether the case against three of the 10 men indicted so far should continue. As ESPN's Mark Schlabach writes, "Attorneys representing former Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code and former sports agent Christian Dawkins are expected to argue in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that what their clients are accused of doing — allegedly funneling money from Adidas to the families of high-profile recruits to ensure that the players signed with Adidas-sponsored schools, and then Adidas and certain sports agents and financial planners once they turned pro — doesn't constitute a federal crime."

A ruling on dismissal could come later today. Trial is set for Oct. 1.

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