Alabama staffer resigns over link to financial adviser amid bribery investigation
Alabama is also claiming, after a swift review, that no NCAA violations were made
There are now seven known schools affected by the FBI's widespread investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting. On Wednesday night, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne announced that the school accepted the resignation of Kobie Baker, a men's basketball administrator. Baker's resignation came after Byrne said an internal review of its men's basketball program was catalyzed by the news of the FBI's inquiry into the shady side of college basketball.
"Following yesterday's reports from New York regarding a Federal investigation of intercollegiate athletics, the University of Alabama Department of Athletics immediately initiated an internal review of our men's basketball operations," Byrne said. "As a result, we have accepted the resignation effective today of Kobie Baker, a men's basketball administrator. Our review has not identified any NCAA or SEC rules violations nor the involvement of any other coach or staff member. We have notified both of the governing bodies of the actions we have taken. As always, we will continue to be proactive in our compliance efforts."
The Tuscaloosa News reports that "Baker may have been involved in a scheme to accept money in return for directing a UA player to sign with an Atlanta financial advisor after declaring for the NBA draft."
The financial adviser in question is Rashan Michel, who is one of the 10 men charged in the FBI's case. Michel also runs a high-end suit store out of Atlanta and, according to FBI files, was deeply entrenched with Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person's bribery and fraud scheme. Person has also been charged. Baker has not been charged.
More from the Tuscaloosa News:
According to the charges released yesterday by the United States Attorney Office in the Southern District of New York, Michel met with an unidentified "school administrator" who accepted a $5,000 payment and arranged an August meeting with the "father of a highly regarded incoming freshman" from the Atlanta area, along with Michel and a cooperating federal witness listed as CW-1.
An additional $10,000 was allegedly given to Michel at that meeting, and was to be given to the staff member for his "influence" in steering the player. The Tuscaloosa News learned Wednesday that UA believed Baker to be the "staff member" identified. The player's father was not identified. Alabama recruited highly-rated freshman Collin Sexton from the Atlanta area last season.
Sexton is arguably Alabama's biggest recruit in decades, a player who projects as a lottery pick in the eyes of many NBA evaluators. Alabama, in its statement above, claims no NCAA rules have been violated. That will not stop the NCAA from taking a visit to Tuscaloosa and checking into the eligibility of Sexton. (Who is the only incoming player from Georgia that Alabama has on its roster.)
Ironically, Baker previously worked at the NCAA as part of its enforcement unit. He held that post until 2015, when he joined Alabama's basketball staff. The FBI's efficient and impressive dismantling of college basketball's dark-operative world has already made the NCAA's enforcement unit look hapless by comparison, and news that a former enforcement staffer was allegedly turned to operating in that world only makes things look worse for the NCAA.
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