Auburn and Alabama basketball both live in glass houses

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Auburn and Alabama basketball both live in glass houses

This is why Alabama fans should never throw stones at Auburn's house and vice versa. Both are made of glass.

Two days into a stunning, wide-ranging and ongoing FBI probe into the shady side of college basketball, one thing is clear. The bounce houses on both sides of the Iron Bowl divide have cracks in the windows.

Neither side can be certain at the moment how many pieces will have to be picked up.

It seems former NBA official, current high-end suit store owner and alleged bribery and conspiracy middleman Rashan Michel had at least one friend in the basketball offices at both Auburn and Alabama.

At Auburn, it was associate head coach Chuck Person. He's now a co-defendant with Michel in a detailed, damning federal complaint.

At Alabama, it was associate athletics director Kobie Baker. He's now a former associate AD, having resigned Wednesday because he's been tainted by the same complaint.

The first 30 pages of United States of America v. Chuck Connors Person and Rashan Michel present a mountain of taped and wiretapped evidence detailing the alleged conspiracy involving Person, Michel and a disgraced financial adviser working as an FBI informant.

Their alleged goal: Make money off the Auburn players Person would steer to the adviser for financial advice and to Michel for clothing on their road to the NBA.

Page 31 introduces a new recruit to the scheme: Staff Member-1, who works for the basketball program at another NCAA school. Staff Member-1, as first reported by The Tuscaloosa News and confirmed by, is Kobie Baker.

That's the Kobie Baker who attended Talladega College at about the same time as Rashan Michel. It's the Kobie Baker who joined Avery Johnson's Alabama staff after working for the NCAA - in the enforcement department.

In that job, according to his Alabama bio before it was removed from the athletics department website, "Baker developed significant expertise in the ... basketball recruiting environment ... which provided him the tools to effectively monitor and mitigate potential violations through outreach and education."

According to the complaint, Staff Member-1 met with Michel and the financial adviser on May 3, 2017, and the adviser paid the staffer $5,000. When the adviser asked the staffer if he really had the sway to send players his way, the staffer said, among other things, "Yeah, I can absolutely do that."

Those words echoed Person's alleged boast earlier in the complaint of his influence on one unnamed Auburn player: "He listens to one person. That's me."

As the complaint says Person did on multiple occasions, Staff Member-1 allegedly attended a meeting with Michel, the adviser and a parent of a prominent player in his program. The purpose of the meeting: To introduce the player's father and the financial adviser.

The complaint says that meeting took place Aug. 31 of this year in Atlanta with "the father of a highly regarded incoming freshman basketball player at Staff Member-1's university."

That description has to send shivers down the spine of everyone connected to or concerned with Alabama basketball. Neither the player nor his father is named in the complaint, but the Crimson Tide does have a highly regarded freshman point guard from the Atlanta area named Collin Sexton.

At that meeting, the adviser allegedly gave Michel about $10,000 to give to Staff Member-1. In all, the complaint says Staff Member-1 received about $25,000 as an incentive to participate in the scheme.

Why isn't Baker identified by name in the complaint? He wasn't charged with a crime. Why wasn't he charged with a crime? I don't know, but I do know this:

Just when it seemed the long-dormant basketball programs at Auburn and Alabama were rising up together to make some noise, they find themselves wondering if/when another shoe will drop.

Will players be declared ineligible? How many, which ones and for how long? Did an NCAA Tournament trip just become a pipe dream? Will anyone else lose his job or go to jail?

It's small consolation that those questions are being asked about programs from coast to coast. Close to home, from the Plains to T-town, there is no moral high ground here. It's nothing but glass houses on shaky ground.

So put down your stones and hold your breath.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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