With ongoing trials surrounding the college basketball corruption scandal, it is unlikely that the NCAA will be able to resolve their investigation before March Madness.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday that investigations are underway based on information gathered by federal authorities in the college basketball corruption scandal. He added that those investigations are not likely to be resolved during the 2018–19 season as the trials will still be ongoing.
“This whole incident has cast a very bad light on college basketball and we need to deal with it as effectively as we can,” Emmert told reporters after speaking at the Learfield Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, per Yahoo Sports. “We’re not going to have everything wrapped by the Final Four because these trials are still going to be going on.”
The first of three federal trials concluded in October. A jury determined that Adidas executive Jim Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and would-be agent Christian Dawkins were each guilty on all counts of committing wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Gatto was found guilty on three counts; Dawkins and Code were found guilty on each of theirs. All three men will be sentenced on March 5, 2019, and they will remain out on bond until then.
Dawkins's lawyer said that he plans on appealing. A timeline for the appeal has not yet been determined.
The prosecution's case in the trial centered around the argument that by conspiring to pay basketball recruits (which would render the players ineligible under NCAA rules), the trio of men defrauded universities, whose athletic scholarships were thus awarded under false pretenses.
In September 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation charged several college coaches for their connection with a corruption scheme, asserting that they and others lied and used their stature to influence high schools recruits to sign with schools.
Two more trials will be conducted in 2019 focused on the coaches: one involving former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person and Atlanta clothier Rashan Michel is slated for February and another involving former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, former USC assistant Tony Bland and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans is scheduled for April.
Emmert noted that these ongoing trials limit the NCAA's ability to investigate the scandal somewhat.
“There are still ongoing trials, investigatory work being done by the U.S. Attorney’s office, and we have to be respectful of that,” he said. “We don’t want to inadvertently obstruct any of that justice process. We’re moving forward as assertively as we can, while still having to respect that process. We’re going to do this as quickly as we can but there are still legal challenges out there.”
The NCAA will hand out sanctions related to the federal investigation as applicable after everything is wrapped up, but due to the timing of the investigations and trials, it is unlikely that any schools involved will be ruled ineligible for postseason play in 2019, which Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, also present at the forum, was not pleased with.
“Maybe there should be more people ineligible.”