By Chris DePew
Sept. 28, 2017
The college basketball scandal that has been sweeping the nation landed with an unwelcome thud on the doorstep of Coleman Coliseum Wednesday evening.
Associate athletics director Kobie Baker, who had direct administrative oversight of the men’s basketball program, resigned Wednesday, according to Alabama AD Greg Byrne in a press release. Shortly afterwards, The Tuscaloosa News reported that Baker is believed to be tied to a wide-ranging FBI investigation announced earlier this week into corrupt practices in the sport, especially directing payments to players and their families as well as the bribing of coaches and basketball staffers to get them to turn star players towards selected agents and financial advisers once they turn pro.
“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,” said Byrne in the release. “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.”
Baker has not been charged by the FBI or named in the allegations released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York. But both the Tuscaloosa News and AL.com are reporting that he is the “Staff Member 1” mentioned in the complaint as accepting illicit payments beginning in May of this year and culminating with an August 31 dinner meeting that included the staff member, two other persons connected to the alleged scheme and “the father of a highly regarded incoming freshman basketball player at Staff-Member 1’s university.” The player is not further identified, but incoming McDonald’s All-American Collin Sexton is from suburban Atlanta.
If Byrne’s statement about not finding any NCAA rules violations holds true, it would seem to indicate that Baker is believed to have been induced to try to steer the Sexton family to a preferred financial adviser after his college career is done, something widely expected to happen next spring. Nothing in the charges points to Sexton or his family receiving payments to play for Alabama, but it is unclear what the charges currently detailed would mean for his eligibility. Additionally, any NCAA involvement or investigation is certain to look beyond the scope of the FBI’s charges and the outcome would be unpredictable.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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