Presiding over a conference with half of its schools at least tangentially tied to the ongoing basketball corruption scandal, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Thursday that he did not believe there were widespread issues with rules compliance.
“I’ve got no reason to believe that there’s a systemic problem,” Scott said at Pac-12 media day. “Allegations have been made about a lot of schools nationally. We are eager to see what comes out of the trial, what comes out of NCAA investigation, as are our schools.”
Arizona, USC, Oregon and Washington stand accused of various misdeeds involving players, coaches and middlemen as part of the scandal. Arizona State assistant Anthony Coleman was referenced in a subpoena by federal agents regarding his ties to Adidas. UCLA was mentioned last week during a trial involving a player who never played collegiately because of concerns his family had received improper inducements, though the player’s father said he had no recollection of any involvement on behalf of the Bruins.
Scott said every Pac-12 school has investigated its own basketball program to ensure compliance as a result of the scandal.
“Each of our schools came back through that process and concluded that they had no evidence of any breaking of rules and assured that, if they did, they would take action,” Scott said.
USC coach Andy Enfield, whose onetime assistant Tony Bland was fired earlier this year in the wake of his allegedly having taken a $13,000 bribe from an aspiring agent and financial advisor in exchange for steering Trojans players to use their services when they became professionals, praised his school’s compliance.
“We have more compliance people at USC than probably any school in the country, and they’re great,” Enfield said. “They travel with us, and we have a tremendous working relationship with them. It’s been like that since I’ve been at USC, and this is our sixth season. Kyle Waterstone is our compliance director with men’s basketball, and he’s as good as it gets anywhere.”
For a second consecutive year, Arizona coach Sean Miller spent more time discussing the FBI than his top players. The first eight questions he fielded pertained to an ongoing probe of the school, including allegations that an Adidas representative paid former Wildcats star DeAndre Ayton, the first pick in the most recent NBA draft.
“I’m aware a trial is going on,” Miller said, “but if you’d like to ask me about our team this year, our program on the court, I’d be happy to answer those questions. Any of the other types of questions, I would ask you to go to the statement that I made in March” when he denied any wrongdoing.
UCLA coach Steve Alford, who has repeatedly said he has “zero concern” about any Bruins involvement in the scandal, nevertheless pondered when the headlines might shift from what’s going on in court to on the court.
“The whole thing is unfortunate to our game, and we just hope that we can get some closure and move forward, and our game becomes better because of it,” Alford said, “but as far as my dealings and stuff with all the shoe companies I’ve been involved with, everything has been very, very good.”
A year after being left out of the NCAA tournament despite a second-place finish in the Pac-12, USC is hoping for some early season resume building. The Trojans will play Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas Christian and Nevada as part of a demanding nonconference schedule.