College basketball corruption trial: Brian Bowen's father makes explosive allegations against several schools
Thursday brought serious allegations against a lot of big schools by the father of five-star recruit Brian Bowen
Brian Bowen II's peculiarly late pledge to Louisville in the spring of 2017 was arguably the most disruptive commitment to college basketball in modern history.
It's the commitment that helped fortify the federal government's case against 10 men for wire fraud, conspiracy and other charges that have put a dark backdrop on college basketball for the past year. It's the commitment that ended the Hall of Fame career of Rick Pitino and got his boss, former longtime Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, fired.
Bowen's eligibility was perpetually in question; even after he transferred to South Carolina, he couldn't get cleared to play. He left college in the spring and is now earning money by playing for an Australian team. But in the eyes of the FBI, Bowen wasn't a primarily active guilty party in this.
His father was a catalyst for much of the mess.
And on Thursday in a courtroom in downtown Manhattan, Bowen's father, Brian Bowen Sr., took the stand for his highly anticipated testimony. According to numerous reporters on the scene, Bowen testified that middleman Christian Dawkins told him that people allegedly connected to or employed by Arizona, Oklahoma State, Texas and Creighton all, at one point, offered payment in an effort to secure his son's commitment.
Bowen Sr. also said he did not accept money from any of those schools (and said he could not remember Oregon offering, as was put forth by the defense in its opening statement) as the offers supposedly came through Dawkins, one of the defendants in the trial. Instead, as financial advisor Munish Sood testified to on Wednesday, Bowen Sr. only took direct money tied to a school deal in the form of nearly $20,000 in cash from Sood in a New Jersey parking lot in July 2017 after his son was enrolled at Louisville.
Thursday's testimony was inflammatory to college basketball on the whole. These are the details that, if true, can get coaches fired, ignite serious NCAA investigations and change the course of programs. Multiple coaches were named by Bowen Sr., who also contextualized his stories by reminding the jury that he was working through this process -- selling his son's talent since the age of 15, he said -- through Dawkins, a runner trying to build up his reputation in the agent space.
According to reports from the courthouse, Bowen Sr. was enticed along the way by Dawkins, who bumped up the asking price for Bowen II from $60,000 to $100,000.
Preston, a freshman last season at Kansas, never played a game for the Jayhawks due to the school looking into the financials of a car he was driving around Lawrence, Kansas. Invoking Kansas' name into this was a microcosm of the ripple effect Bowen Sr.'s testimony had on a handful of significant schools.
According to Bowen Sr.'s testimony, Dawkins also posed $150,000 and other money benefits on behalf of Oklahoma State, via former assistant Lamont Evans; $100,000 from Creighton and its assistant, Preston Murphy; $50,000 from Arizona, via former assistant Joe Pasternack; and that former Texas assistant Mike Morrell would "help" with "housing" if Texas landed Bowen II.
Evans was fired from Oklahoma State after being charged in the case. Murphy is still an assistant at Creighton. Pasternack is now the coach at UC Santa Barbara. Morrell is now the coach at UNC-Asheville.
On Thursday night, Creighton put out a statement that reads in part: "In 2017, when information regarding allegations of improper recruiting practices nationwide were first announced, Creighton conducted a thorough review of its men's basketball program. University officials take today's claim very seriously and will continue to work with the appropriate agencies as needed. To date, the Creighton University Athletics compliance office has not been contacted by the FBI or the NCAA."
Pasternack and UC Santa Barbara responded to CBS Sports by providing this statement: "UC Santa Barbara has not been contacted by any of the federal investigators involved in the college basketball trial in New York City. At this time, we are focused on and excited about the upcoming season."
Texas put out a statement Tuesday afternoon: "In response to the NCAA Board of Governors memo last year charging institutions to examine their men's basketball programs for possible rules violations, our compliance office conducted a review and did not find any information that substantiates the recent testimony at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. We will monitor the information from the court proceedings and continue to cooperate fully should there be any requests from the NCAA."
CBS Sports also reached out to Morrell, who is yet to respond., prior to Bowen Sr.'s testimony, that said the university had done a brief internal investigation and found no wrongdoing amongst its men's basketball staff.
Earlier on Thursday, the prosecution laid out information that claimed former Louisville assistants Kenny Johnson gave Bowen Sr. $1,300. Johnson was hired in May at La Salle.
Bowen Sr. also testified that people connected to Adidas' grassroots program, Nike's MeanStreets grassroots team and La Lumiere prep school all paid him for his son's time playing for each of those teams. Adidas grassroots executive Chris Rivers, who has been on leave from the company since 2017, according to a source, was specifically named by Bowen Sr.
The prosecution showed on Thursday it had wire transfers via Western Union from Dawkins ($4,000 total) and from Rivers ($2,000). Bowen Sr. also said he accepted $25,000 one year so his son would play with the Michigan Mustangs grassroots team, according to reporters at the trial.
Dawkins, 26, is one of the three defendants in the ongoing trial. It's not yet known whether or not he will testify. The FBI has said it has thousands of hours of wiretapped conversations, some of them including Dawkins. What's not yet known is if any of the things Bowen Sr. testified to on Thursday were caught on wiretap, or if they will be corroborated in court by other witness or evidence.
Bowen Sr.'s time at the stand is not over. The trial is set to resume on Tuesday, with Bowen facing further questions from the prosecution and the defense.
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