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OregonLive: It is “common knowledge” shoe brands pay AAU basketball athletes and their families


The college basketball world was flipped upside down back in September when the FBI unveiled a nationwide corruption scandal involving apparel brands paying high school athletes and directing them to specific schools.

As the months progressed, more and more information leaked out on the scandal, with just about every blue blood program being named in the reports.

Assistant coaches and apparel brand officials have been arrested. Head coaches have been fired (I’m looking at you, Rick) and many more could be coming. And we still haven’t even seen the grand finale of this ordeal.

Now, the AAU basketball scene may be the next group of individuals investigated.

In an article by OregonLive, a loophole has apparently been found by AAU programs and apparel brands to funnel money to top recruits’ families. In fact, it is deemed “common knowledge” around the travel circuit at this point.

And Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is the center of the story.

According to the report, Bagley Jr. and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2008 with a combined family income of just over $44,000.

Though specific numbers weren’t released, tax forms confirmed the family listed a home in Southern California in 2012 that one local real estate broker said could range anywhere from $750,000 to $1.5 million. Bagley III was also enrolled in a private school with a tuition cost of $36,250 per year.

So how could they see a financial jump of that degree in such little time?

It was all from the help of a sponsorship Nike signed with Bagley’s AAU basketball program. Just a merchandise-only sponsorship can exceed $10,000 a year, but the money being paid to the coaching staff and those involved with the program exceeds that number by a significant amount.

Journalist and author George Dohrmann wrote a scathing account of youth basketball after spending eight years with a Southern California club team. “If a dad is coaching an AAU team that is sponsored by one of the big shoe companies, that is plainly just a way for the shoe company to dump a bunch of money in the lap of the parent of the young star,” he said.

“Everybody knows that, right? It’s a joke.”

One NCAA regulation expert said the loophole involves college athletes promising the NCAA they have never been paid personally, but the families can still have their financial needs met through these sponsored AAU programs.

Gerald Gurney, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on NCAA regulations, said “college athletes are to certify that they’ve not been paid anything for their play.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive described the two coaching jobs Bagley Jr. held, and that raised red flags for Gurney. “It’s very hard for anyone who has established a relationship with one of these companies to honestly say they’ve not been paid anything,” he said.

One attorney involved bluntly said it’s no secret recruits’ families are being funneled money by top brands.

“These families are getting paid by the shoe companies,” said attorney Steve Haney of Southfield, Michigan.

NCAA president Mark Emmert announced there would be major changes coming to college basketball by next season, specifically involving the punishment of those taking advantage of these teenage athletes. Will this loophole be addressed in these meetings this summer? Will we see punishment for these apparel brands indirectly funneling money to recruits’ families?

Needless to say, the NCAA has their work cut out for them in the very near future.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

11 responses to “OregonLive: It is “common knowledge” shoe brands pay AAU basketball athletes and their families”

  1. channell

    You can forget it if Duke and Coach K are involved. Nothing to be seen here.

  2. 4everUKblue

    Move along, nothing to see here. K is above the rules as are all his players.

  3. kentuckybackupplayer

    does this mean oregon players need to turn themselves in to the fbi.

  4. UKinIN

    Corruption is common place at all levels of competitive sports. In Indiana there are rules governing offseason competitions but the public schools break the rules and since “everyone is doing it” they don’t rat on each other. I’m sure the same is true of AAU deals. Everyone knows what’s going on but no one wants to go public and bite the hand that feeds them. There is no way that the NCAA can govern or investigate every high school and AAU team in the United States.

  5. Catlogic15

    Who’s been sent to prison??

  6. Han

    The AAU teams have always seemed like trouble. For years fans have predicted kids are definitely going to a Nike school or an Adidas school because of the AAU sponsorships. So many agents and runners and go-betweens who regularly deal with shoe companies and college merchandise and pro endorsements were all hanging around teenagers and the people around them with their hands out. Even if a kid knows nothing about it, money could easily go to a coach like is being described here whether that coach is family or not. Kids trusting their coach’s input or judgement is a big part of why college coaches try to develop good relationships with high school, prep and AAU coaches so they’ll recommend that college coach/school to their best players and call those coaches when they have a good player developing.

  7. makeitstop

    The likelihood that Duke gets tagged for this, no matter how overwhelming the innuendo or actual evidence is so small the number can’t be measured by the human eye. Carolina knowingly cheated for decades to keep otherwise ineligible athletes on the court and gridiron, and this touches DUKE. Not a prayer they get cited I will all be a failed system and K is a victim. It’s a loophole. We get it. Pay the dad or uncle not the kid. But let’s stop pretending Duke is above it and call it like it is.

  8. antiquefurnitureandmidgets

    Shouldn’t we maybe let this play out a little bit before all of the “looking at you, Rick” remarks? If all the elite programs are getting tagged with this investigation maybe it would be better to shut up and wait. As for Bagley, in 2012 he was 13 years old. These companies are willing to pay $36,000 tuition and put families in $1 million homes in exchange for access to 13 year old players? Good grief! Of course, idiots run out and line up to spend nearly $200 on freaking basketball shoes. I guess they can afford to risk multi-million dollar down payments on tweens.

  9. J-Dub421

    The NCAA has basically the same loophole. Coaches can hire a parent or guardian in order to get a player to go to their school. How is LSU paying Ben Simmons godfather $100,000 to be an assistant for a year any different than what the AAU teams are doing? The NCAA isn’t going to do anything.

    1. anrbob

      ^^THIS. I was thinking the same thing

    2. 4everUKblue

      Unless it involves Kentucky.