The NCAA Committee on Infractions placed Alabama‘s men’s basketball program on three years’ probation on Friday after a former associate athletics director accepted bribes to facilitate a meeting between a player’s father and a financial advisor.
The NCAA also fined the Crimson Tide $5,000 plus 1% of its operating budget for men’s basketball, and issued a 10-year show-cause order for former associate athletics director Kobie Baker, who resigned in September 2017, after university officials questioned him about his involvement in a bribery scheme involving financial advisors and managers.
The Crimson Tide were charged with a Level I-Mitigated rules violation; Baker was charged with a Level 1-Aggravated violation.
According to the NCAA public infractions decision report, Baker “knowingly received money” from financial advisor Marty Blazer, a cooperating witness in a federal investigation into bribes and other corruption in college basketball, and former NBA referee Rashan Michel, who was acting as Blazer’s representative.
The NCAA said Baker received dinner and at least $3,000 from Blazer and Michel after facilitating a series of meetings in the spring and summer of 2017 between Blazer and the father of an unnamed prominent Tide player.
“The associate AD admitted he knew from the first meeting that the financial advisor and his representative wanted access to student-athletes and their parents,” the NCAA report said. “He also knew that they wanted him to facilitate that access because it would enhance their credibility if they were brought in by an administrator. The associate AD’s conduct cuts to the core of the integrity of the Collegiate Model. It undermines the ethical standards of conduct expected of all institutional employees and establishes a Level I violation.”
According to the Committee on Infractions (COI), Alabama “learned the identity of the father of the student-athlete and began proactively working to secure the student athlete’s reinstatement prior to the 2017-18 men’s basketball season. … As a result of Alabama’s actions, the student-athlete never competed while ineligible.”
The COI said Baker refused to cooperate in the investigation by not producing requested bank, telephone and text records. The report said Baker initially declined to participate in interviews with NCAA investigators, but later agreed to an unrecorded interview.
The allegations arose from a federal investigation into bribes and other corruption in college basketball led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Baker was identified as an unnamed staff member in an unsealed complaint.
The NCAA report said Alabama received a written notice of inquiry from the NCAA on May 8, 2019.
The Crimson Tide disagreed with the NCAA’s proposed penalties, but later self-imposed probation and a financial penalty at the low end of the penalty ranges associated with Level 1-mitigated cases, according to the COI report.
“Alabama argued that its behavior after becoming aware of potential violations served as a model for how member institutions should handle potential violations,” the report said. “The panel applauds Alabama’s swift and decisive action once potential violations became public. Alabama undertook proactive efforts to determine whether its institution, staff members or student-athletes were among the unnamed parties referenced in the complaint.
“The panel considered these actions when determining and weighing applicable mitigating factors and arriving at a Level I-Mitigated classification. However, this case involved severe conduct that seriously undermines and threatens the foundational values of the Association and the Collegiate Model. In light of the agreed-upon violations in this case, the absolute minimum penalties are not appropriate.”