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NCAA investigating the powerhouse that is Idaho State

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
In college sports, how often do coaches see the wrong thing then act upon the right one?

It's a rhetorical question because we could never deduce such a ratio, naturally. But let's go even deeper: How often do you think a coach without a grip on a full-time job would threaten his future by reporting nefarious booster behavior at his school to the NCAA? At face value, it's what Deane Martin did last year.

You don't know who Deane Martin is, most likely. He took over at Idaho State in the middle of last season after a 2-8 start prompted the firing of Joe O'Brien. In slid Martin, who guided the Bengals' ship to a 7-13 finish. Hey, that's improvement, but not good enough.

Turns out Martin was uncomfortable with some booster activity around the program. Funny, though, he only shared his squeamishness of the situation once he didn't have a future with Idaho State. (The job was filled by Bill Evans.)

According to a Sunday report from the Idaho State Journal, via the Associated Press, we're learning that Idaho State's got a booster seemingly too publicly eager to lure players to the program.

You know: with money.

Would we have known this if Martin got the job? That's a question to just linger with us for a little while. Ultimately it's of no consequence, though. For now, Idaho State and the NCAA have a little mess to clean up.
An NCAA investigation at Idaho State reportedly was prompted in part by a letter written by a former interim men's basketball coach warning of a booster willing to pay quality players.

The Idaho State Journal reports that former interim coach Deane Martin sent the letter on March 6 to athletic director Jeff Tingey a day after Martin didn't get picked as the full-time coach.

The newspaper reports Tingey responded by telling Martin the letter contained potentially slanderous statements, and that Martin then sent the letter to the NCAA.

Oh. Ah.

No one's talking on the record right now, of course. The letter from Martin also includes the name of the booster -- currently being withheld while the NCAA drones mill about the case -- according to the Idaho State Journal. The passage with the most damning accusation lies here: "The newspaper obtained the letter from a university employee. Martin writes that a booster told him 'in the presence of another witness, that he wanted to insure that ISU got the best recruit we could, and he offered his support. Specifically (the booster) indicated that if it took a 'money handshake' from him to a coach or a recruit, to seal the deal, he was happy to do that.'"

Surely he would. College sports' oily middle men: they're everywhere, even in far-off places of little relevancy, like Idaho Freakin' State.

While HQ in Indianapolis figures out what to do with this troublesome Idaho man with money, it's unclear what penalties, if any, the program will suffer. I assure you, nothing ruins the start of the NCAA's summer like having to deal with this kind of problem. It's one thing to get a sexy scandal of a case at a school like Ohio State, Florida or a UConn. But Idaho State? It's irritating and only the necessary reminder: In some way, cheating happens almost everywhere in college basketball.

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