Huggins On FBI Investigation Into Basketball: ‘If There’s Money Involved It Gets Infiltrated’
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggins struck two key points on the FBI investigation into multiple college basketball programs on Thursday.
First, that there would be “severe consequences” for anyone at West Virginia involved with such. And second, that the vast majority of coaches run clean programs.
“Could one of our guys do something I don’t know about? Yeah,” Huggins said. “I’d find out. I may not know right way, but I would definitely find out. I think what our charge is that we make sure our guys understand what we are going to do and things that better not happen and if they happen there will be very severe consequences. My guys know that.”
Of now, the FBI has arrested 10 people, including four NCAA basketball coaches and an Adidas manager in a bribery investigation involving recruitment efforts. The four assistant or associate coaches are from Big 12 member Oklahoma State along with Auburn, Arizona and USC. According to CNBC, court papers indicated OSU assistant Lamont Evans “bragged about his ability to steer athletes toward prospective agents and advisors and expected $2,000 per month for his services, but could ask for an extra $5,000 to $7,000, ‘at the end of the day for delivering.'”
A representative from Oklahoma State University told CNBC, “Based on the serious and troubling allegations in the complaint, Oklahoma State University has suspended assistant coach Lamont Evans.”
In addition, Louisville has placed athletic director Tom Jurich and head coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave pending the investigation into the school’s involvement with Jim Gatto, Adidas’ Director of Global Sports Marketing for basketball.
Gatto is accused of getting $100,000 to a highly-rated high school player so the player would attend a school with which Adidas has an apparel contract. The school’s name was unmentioned, but the FBI report’s description of a public institution in Kentucky with 22,640 students matches Louisville.
“People gotta do the right thing, that’s all,” Huggins said. “If all this stuff is true, what a shame. But it’s like anything else: If there’s money involved it gets infiltrated. That’s any walk of life. There’s good people and bad people everywhere. All you can control is what you can control. I have some control here over our guys and our team.
“I can tell you this: (ESPN analyst) Jay Bilas said guys have been getting paid for a hundred years. Why would you say something like that? There was somebody who said they had 100 coaches call and 80 percent of them said ‘I hope they don’t knock on my door.’ So you think 80 percent of the coaches cheat? He said it was more like 40 percent. Forty percent of coaches don’t cheat. There are some who do. There are people who don’t obey the rules in every walk of life. It’s just not us, but we get a lot more publicity.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement on Tuesday, reading in part that the organization has “no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”
Huggins said it wasn’t as much the coaches, but rather the “headhunters and athletic administration. They go hire these guys because they allegedly recruited this guy or that guy. I can tell you this: There’s a hell of a lot more to what we do than recruiting a couple guys.
“I told Shane (Lyons, WVU’s Director of Athletics) one time ‘You need to fire me for the guys I’ve recruited or pay me more for winning with these guys.’ We don’t have those top whatever guys. We go get guys who we believe are going to be successful in what we do. For the most part they have. Our guys are more in line with ‘Let’s go work and watch a lot of games and see who fits where.'”
Check out Huggin’s interview here, including comments on the start of practice and how the Mountaineers will attempt to replace forward Esa Ahmad, who is suspended for the first half of the season for failing to meet eligibility requirements.