I think that the athletes are viewed as the victims here, not the perpetrators. And even if that’s not the reality, it’s how the court of public opinion would see it, and ultimately all other courts are subservient to the court of public opinion.
If it’s considered fraud to pay a coach to steer an athlete to a company, not sure why the athlete knowingly colluding in that crime wouldn’t make them an accomplice. Ultimately, I think the biggest hurdle here will be for the FBI to prove there was a clear quid pro quo and that if there was, it rises to the level of fraud. I don’t think in most circumstances it’ll be viewed as illegal to simply pay a person in authority to advocate on your behalf. Slimy, and definitely against NCAA rules, but I’m curious exactly what the legal standard is.
I’m glad somebody posted this. Respected sports economists are shaking their heads today at the absurdity of it all – of course there’s going to be money funneled to talented athletes in a system that actively restrains the simplest components of capitalism.
This also seems to be dangerously close to the FBI doing the NCAA’s dirty work for it.
Why is the FBI defending amateurism instead of attacking it as they should?
No, no, amateurism is good. The problem is that we’ve never actually pursued it. Why is the highest-paid state employee in most states a college sports coach? Why are college sports coaches even paid at all? What do sports have to do with education, which is supposed to be the purpose of colleges?
I think there are rules on the books about employees of institutions which receive federal funding accepting outside fees for actions that may run contrary to the institutions’ purposes. There may also be fraud perpetrated against the athletes themselves, as steering funds to them makes them ineligible under NCAA rules (yes, I know, haha). The first wouldn’t be necessary and the second wouldn’t be unusual if it weren’t for the schools going all Alamo about amateurism.
I wonder if the schools are feeling more confident these days with a conservative congress and a high powered lobby operating on behalf of the athletic directors? If some pinko judge rules against them, there’s still that magical antitrust exemption to pursue.
Sports Illustrated has a decent high-level layman’s summary of the charges at the end of this article (see everything under “The Charges” heading).
The feds have an interest because of the interstate aspect of the bribes and because the federal government supports the schools through grants, financial aid, and tax breaks.
Other charges include[ul]
[li]“Honest services wire fraud" - wire communication to engage in fraudulent acts. [/li][li]Depriving the coaches’ employing universities “of their intangible right to their employees’ honest services"[/li][li]Travel Act conspiracy: travel in interstate commerce, or use of mail or any facility in interstate, with the intent to distribute the proceeds of any unlawful activity or “promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on, of any unlawful activity." [/li][li]Conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a scheme to defraud high school athletes and their families[/li][li]Money laundering[/li][li]Conspiracy to “steer" college athletes to use specific services, which deprives the (government-funded) university of its “intangible" right to the coaches’ services.[/li][/ul]