The scandal rocking college basketball finally touched the sport’s biggest programs on Friday — Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and, yes, even Kentucky — with an explosive report by Yahoo Sports citing federally seized financial documents from an agent. Former Wildcats Nerlens Noel and Bam Adebayo are named, as is current UK freshman Kevin Knox.
Yahoo’s Pat Forde and Pete Thamel unveiled a look at documents and bank records that could implicate many high-profile college players, past and present, in receiving improper benefits. The report takes a look at federal documents obtained on the “expenditures of prominent former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports.”
Adebayo’s inclusion appears most problematic for the Cats, as he is alleged to have received a hefty “loan” from an agent while still a high school prospect. Knox, a former McDonald’s All-American who is averaging 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds for Kentucky, is listed among several players who had dinner with the agency — which itself is not an NCAA violation.
“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. “But then it becomes a question of who pays for the meal.”
The University of Kentucky athletics department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, but Wildcats players and coach John Calipari were expected to speak at 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Friday, respectively, in a previously scheduled news conference to preview a game against Missouri on Saturday.
While the bombshell report raises questions about the current season, the most troubling information is from last season. A balance sheet for Miller’s agency, dated Dec. 31, 2015, showed loans as big as five figures being issued to college basketball players across the country — including Adebayo and Noel.
The name “BAM” is listed on a document that indicated a loan was given in the amount of $12,000. The listing is later identified as Edrice “Bam” Adebayo. Adebayo’s name was referenced as a “bad loan” for $36,500. He did not sign with the agency after playing one season for Kentucky in 2016-17, when he helped the Cats reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight and then became an NBA lottery pick.
Noel is listed for a “loan to player” in the amount of $4,350, but it’s unclear if that is a problem for Kentucky. His one season for the Cats was 2012-13. Miller had been Noel’s agent until December of 2016, when he found a new agent.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops — and whenever UK comments.