Report adds names, including Markelle Fultz, to federal basketball corruption probe

Washington Arizona Basketball
Sixers guard Markelle Fultz (20) when he played for Washington, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona defeated Washington 77-66. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Documents seized from a leading basketball agent by federal investigators looking into corruption across the basketball landscape include notations of loans to current and former college stars, including to Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz and former Big Five players, according to a report in Yahoo Sports.

In many cases, including all the ones involving the Big Five players, it is unclear if the loans alleged to have been made by former agent Andy Miller occurred while the players still were playing in college or after they had turned professional.

In some cases, the loans from Miller, not allowed under NCAA regulations before players turn pro, were made while players were in college, or in some cases when they were in high school, according to the report. A document in the report, shown as a Dec. 31, 2015 balance sheet, lists a $10,000 loan to Fultz, when Fultz was a senior in high school, before he played at the University of Washington for one season. Fultz did not sign with Miller’s ASM agency.

Miller relinquished his NBA Players Association agent certification after his records were seized. Yahoo Sports reported that although Miller has yet to be charged in the case, “it’s widely believed he’s cooperating with the government.”

The federal case already has led to the arrests of former assistant coaches and the firing of Louisville’s Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino.

No Big Five player from the last five years was named in the report. Loans listed by Miller on his December 2015 balance sheet include those to former Villanova players Kyle Lowry, Maalik Wayns, Antonio Pena and former Temple player Lavoy Allen, all Miller clients who had been professionals for at least three years by then. The listing does not note when the loans were made, listing $5,927.51 to Lowry, $5,000 to Antonio Pena, $1,180.94 to Wayns, and $623.35 to Allen. Lowry last played at Villanova in 2006, Pena in 2011, Wayns in 2012, and Allen last played at Temple 2011. Allen originally had another agent before switching to Miller’s ASM agency.

“Lavoy Allen attended Temple University and was a member of the men’s basketball team from 2007 through 2011 before being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Draft. To the best of our knowledge, Lavoy’s relationship with Andy Miller began during his NBA career,” said a statement from Temple senior associate athletic director for communications Larry Dougherty.

In a phone interview, Villanova athletic director Mark Jackson said, “Since this story broke earlier in the fall, we’ve done waves and waves of due diligence, from our compliance office and general counsel’s office,” adding that all those findings come to the conclusion that “we’re meeting all NCAA standards and university standards as it relates to our recruiting practices and NCAA compliance.”

Jackson did say that Friday’s report “offers some new information we need to look into,”  adding, “as we’ve done in the last five or six months, we’ll look at everything. Thus far, I don’t have a lot of reason to be concerned, from looking at everything from every angle. We’ll lean on our internal auditing to make sure we’re OK.”

Former Penn State player D.J. Newbill, from Strawberry Mansion High, also is listed on the December 2015 Miller document, noting that Newbill, who finished playing at Penn State in 2014-15, as receiving a $2,000 loan. Another undated page noted Newbill and the words “Paying back July 2017.”

“We take this information very seriously,’’ said a statement from Penn State’s athletic department. “The University needs time to look into this morning’s story. Until we know more, we can’t comment further.”

NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement: “These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.”

The statement went on to note the independent commission on college basketball formed in the aftermath of last year’s indictments, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, will “provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport.”

In Friday’s story, Yahoo notes expenses filed by a former Miller associate, Christian Dawkins, who was arrested Sept. 26 and faces felony charges of wire fraud and bribery in a case that also includes the arrest of former assistants from Arizona, USC and Auburn.

Yahoo reported that according to the documents, Dawkins had dinners listed with “Villanova coaches” and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo among others. Such meals would not be illegal. Also listed were May 3, 2016 notes for lunch with “Miles Bridges Parents. $70.05,” and “ATM Withdrawl: Miles Bridges mom advance. $400.’’

Bridges is a sophomore at Michigan State. Meals with agents are permissible for NCAA players and families if the agent doesn’t pay for the meal of the player or family. Yahoo reported that Dawkins also listed a number of current NCAA players or their families, noting Collin Sexton of Alabama, Wendell Carter Jr. of Duke and Kevin Knox of Kentucky.

Other loans listed in 2015 included to Dennis Smith Jr., not yet at North Carolina State before leaving for the NBA last year after one season, and to Isaiah Whitehead, a freshman at Seton Hall at the time a $26,136 loan was listed. Current players at Texas, South Carolina and Southern California, or family members, were alleged to have received loans, according to the documents obtained by Yahoo.

Earlier this month, point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who had decommitted from Arizona after this same federal investigation led to the arrest of the assistant coach who recruited him, announced an oral commitment to Villanova.

According to documents filed in the case, former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, one of four assistant coaches arrested in the corruption cases, asked for bribes from a sports agent and a financial adviser. They provided him with $15,000 that he used to land a commitment from a player believed to be Quinerly. Whether Quinerly actually received money remains unclear.

Yahoo Sports had reported that before Quinerly’s commitment to Villanova, the school had hired an outside law firm to investigate the facts of the case, including any ties to it that Quinerly might have that could result in sanctions that would make him ineligible.

The day’s events obviously created a stir across college basketball. Friday afternoon, Penn guard Antonio Woods tweeted, “So you’re telling me that I wasted hours sitting in a classroom during AAU tournaments watching that NCAA sanctioned video where they told us not to receive improper benefits. I guess people weren’t paying attention.”

Marc Narducci contributed to this article.