LEXINGTON – University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto told the board of trustees on Friday morning that the school will conduct an internal investigation and will cooperate with authorities following a Yahoo Sports report that linked current and former UK basketball players to an FBI probe into college basketball where players allegedly received impermissible payments, violating NCAA rules.
“We began immediately to conduct our due diligence, and we will cooperate fully with any appropriate authorities,” he said. “That is our commitment as a university to our Board of Trustees and to the Commonwealth. I will keep you informed of any developments should they arise in this matter.”
Kentucky leading scorer Kevin Knox and former players Bam Adebayo and Nerlens Noel were among the players mentioned in a report by Yahoo Sports. The report also mentioned NBA agent Andy Miller, Christian Dawkins and ASM Sports.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a statement he has no ties to Miller, Dawkins or ASM Sports.
“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. Neither my staff nor I utilized any agent, including Andy Miller or any of his associates, to provide any financial benefits to a current or former Kentucky student-athlete. We will cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities.”
Calipari stood by his comments in a regular-scheduled press conference late Friday.
“I know nothing more than you guys know and that’s why there’s no reason for me to speak on it,” Calipari said. “You guys know what I know. For all of basketball, this stuff, but again in a statement I made, is for me where we stand on this and how I feel about it.”
Kentucky Deputy Athletics Director DeWayne Peevy said late Friday the school had no additional information to share.
“We do not have any additional information to share with you at this time,” Peevy said. “Once we do have additional information to share, we will communicate that when appropriate.”
Peevy and Calipari had no updates on Knox, but Calipari expects his freshman leading scorer (15.4 points per game) to play against Missouri Saturday.
“At this point, I believe (he will play unless) there is something I don’t know,” he said.
Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement early Friday the school is looking into the allegations.
“We are aware of the report today by Yahoo! Sports,” he said. “We have not been contacted by the FBI or the NCAA, but since learning of the report, we have reached out to both the NCAA and our league office. We will be conducting an internal review. At this time, we have no further comment.”
Yahoo Sports reported that Adebayo received a loan from an agent while he was a high school player and that Knox had dinner with the agency. Yahoo Sports said Adebayo and Noel received loans for as high as five figures, include one referenced as a “bad loan” for $36,500. He also is listed as receiving another loan for $12,000.
“There’s nothing wrong with meeting with an agent,” Atlanta-based lawyer Stu Brown, who has represented schools and coaches in past NCAA compliance cases, told Yahoo Sports. “But then it becomes a question of who pays for the meal.”
Yahoo said Friday that the documents obtained in discovery during the investigation link current players including Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Duke’s Wendell Carter and Alabama’s Collin Sexton to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Yahoo report, players over the past several years and family members allegedly received cash, entertainment and travel expenses from Miller and his agency ASM Sports.
“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Emmert said the formation this past October of an independent Commission on College Basketball intended to provide recommendations on cleaning up the sport.
“With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever,” the NCAA president said.