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New Haven Register (Connecticut)


A former UConn assistant coach met with Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, two of the central figures in a scandal that rocked the college basketball world, in a Las Vegas hotel last July.

According to emails obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media via a Freedom of Information Act request, UConn reported the details of the meeting to the NCAA after the assistant coach made athletic director David Benedict aware of the situation. The school concluded that no violations occurred.

The incident had no connection to the school's firing of former head coach Kevin Ollie for "just cause" on March 10, according to sources close to the situation.

UConn men's basketball team's roster looks to be set for 2018-19 season

On Oct. 11, the NCAA sent out a memo from its Board of Directors requiring all Division I schools to examine their men's basketball programs for possible NCAA rules violations. The request followed revelations of a scandal involving former sports agent Dawkins and Adidas executives Code and James Gatto.

According to an affidavit released by the FBI on Sept. 26, 2017, Dawkins was captured on video in a Las Vegas hotel room on July 27 talking to Code and Gatto about funneling money to a Louisville recruit. The indictment also described a meeting between Dawkins, Code and USC assistant Tony Bland that took place on July 29.

The meeting took place in a Las Vegas hotel room while a summer tournament was staged in the city.

Gatto, Code and Dawkins were three of the 10 men arrested for the scandal, which also involved assistant coaches from Arizona, Miami and Auburn and led to the firing of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

After the NCAA's request, UConn associate athletic director for compliance Annie Fiorvanti sent an email to Derrick Crawford, managing director of enforcement for the NCAA. The Oct. 19 email, sent three weeks before the start of the season, said the UConn assistant coach told Benedict he was invited to a meeting by Code at Code's hotel room during the July tournament. Dawkins also attended the meeting.

"The coach had no knowledge that anyone else would be present or that the purpose of the visit was to meet with Dawkins," the email said.

Fiorvanti added that "based on our review of the information available to us at this time, we have concluded that there is no information to suggest the coach was involved, directly or indirectly, in making arrangements for or giving or offering to give any financial aid or other benefits to a prospective student athlete or friends and relatives of a prospective student athlete."

There is no mention of which UConn assistant coach attended the meeting in any of the emails. UConn's assistants at the time were Raphael Chillious, Dwayne Killings and Ricky Moore. Chillious was in Las Vegas on July 28, per a post on his Twitter feed, but other UConn assistants may have been in Las Vegas at the time.

After Fiorvanti said in an email to Crawford that the school would assume the matter was concluded unless otherwise notified, NCAA assistant director of enforcement Russell Register sent an email on Nov. 2 requesting a conference call with Benedict "to discuss a matter that we are looking into."

More emails over the following few weeks suggested more conversations between the NCAA and UConn. The reasons for those conversations were not revealed.

Ollie was fired on March 10 and has challenged the school over more than $10 million owed on his contract. The case is pending. Chillious served as the team's interim head coach until Dan Hurley was hired on March 22. Chillious, Killings and Moore were not kept as assistants.

Chillious was recently hired as an assistant at East Carolina, and Killings has landed at Marquette. Moore is still looking for a job, and recently told Hearst Connecticut Media he believes questions about an NCAA investigation into the UConn program may be hurting his chances to find a job.

In a text late Thursday night, Ricky Moore stated that it "1,000 percent" was not him who had the meeting in the hotel room last July in Vegas.;


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June 11, 2018


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