Photo: Bryan Woolston, For the Courier-Journal

Should Indiana Fans Be Concerned With the College Basketball Corruption Trial?

Over the last couple days you may have heard about the college basketball corruption trial that began on Tuesday.

Jim Gatto, a former Adidas executive, is on trial along with sports business manager Christian Dawkins and former amateur league coach Merl Code for funneling money provided by Gatto to the families of top recruits in exchange for their commitment to Adidas-sponsored schools.

If you are like most people, you probably squirm a bit whenever you hear Indiana connected in any way to this and the rest of the seemingly endless array of college basketball scandals.

That’s why when this news broke yesterday, a collective gasp could be heard from Fort Wayne to Evansville.

The context here is the key.  Romeo Langford’s name was not being mentioned to suggest any wrongdoing on his part or his family’s part.  The point of releasing his and the other names was to identify any potential conflicts of interest among the jurists.  For example, if a candidate was an Indiana fan,  that cloud their judgment and make them a less than desirable juror in this case.

It’s well known at this point that Langford’s father took money from Adidas in connection with the funding of an AAU basketball team.  At the surface, that arrangement seems to be the likely reason why Romeo’s name could come up in the trial.

As we previously discussed, the connections between Adidas and the Langford family as we understand them thus far were not illegal and did not run afoul of NCAA rules.  It was also put together at a time in early 2017 before Indiana was heavily involved in Langford’s recruitment.  That is not true, however, of Louisville, who was leading the race at the time for Langford.

If there is any hair on this situation, it most likely relates back to Louisville, although any concerns specific to Langford himself could now of course ultimately impact IU.

In 2017 the FBI alleged in a criminal complaint that coaches with the Louisville program participated in a scheme to pay recruits’ families, including Brian Bowen.  That situation would be altogether different than a shoe company paying someone to run an AAU team as is the case with the Langfords.

There could of course be more to the story here as it relates to the Langfords, Louisville and Adidas, but based on what we know now, there doesn’t appear to be cause for concern for Indiana or the eligibility of its prized freshman recruit.

There is, however, cause for concern at other schools.

It should come as no surprise that the list of schools mentioned to potential jurors at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan included Louisville, along with Arizona, Creighton, DePaul, Kansas, LSU, Miami, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Southern California and Texas.

This is a case about Adidas executives, and Indiana has been an Adidas school for a long time.  The fact that IU doesn’t appear likely to be mentioned in the case is actually good news.  That could change of course.  The larger scandal has cast a wide net, and there will be more trials.

Anything is possible here.  There have already been bombshell allegations in the trial, with the suggestion that Oregon had offered “an astronomical amount of money” to Bowen.  We won’t know for sure why Langford’s name is involved unless or until it comes up in court.

But for now Hoosier fans can rest well.

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