By Ryan S. Clark / Tacoma News Tribune
BERKELEY, Calif. — Former Washington Huskies star point guard Markelle Fultz allegedly received impermissible benefits and broke NCAA rules after taking a $10,000 loan from an agency years before turning professional, according to a Yahoo Sports report.
Yahoo reported Friday morning more than 25 current and former college basketball players from programs such as Alabama, Duke, North Carolina and USC received money from ASM Sports. The revelation is the latest chapter into a federal probe investigating college basketball corruption.
“University of Washington athletic department officials are aware of a report alleging that a former UW men’s basketball player accepted improper benefits as an amateur,” a UW athletic spokesperson said in a statement released to The News Tribune.
“We take these allegations very seriously, and are working to gather more information about this situation. Washington Athletics is committed to full compliance with NCAA legislation and with any investigations that may result from these allegations.”
Another former UW player, Dejounte Murray, was not specifically named in the Yahoo report, but Murray appeared on a March 2016 expense report. The document states Murray allegedly received a $500 advance between March 2 and March 25.
There is not a specific date attached to when Murray was given the money. His last game for the Huskies was March 21 and he declared March 23 for the NBA Draft.
Murray, who is in his second season with the San Antonio Spurs, signed with LeBron James’ agency Klutch Sports days after declaring.
Former NBA agent Andy Miller, his ex-associate Christian Dawkins and the ASM firm were implicated in the investigation. Yahoo reported it reviewed numerous documents spanning “hundreds of pages” from a multiple-year inquiry that led to federal authorities observing several figures and having records of more than 4,000 calls across 330 days.
Yahoo estimated while it could take years for the three criminal cases connected to the investigation to finish, there could be “potential NCAA ramifications” for at least 20 Division I programs.
“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement released Friday morning. “Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport.
“With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”
The report says a ASM balance sheet revealed accounts through Dec. 31, 2015 with the subhead “Loans to Players.” Fultz was one of several players listed who were either in high school or college at the time they received a four-or five-figure payment from the agency.
Fultz, per the documents, received a $10,000 loan but did not sign with ASM. The report also included Bam Adebayo and Dennis Smith — who like Fultz — were first-round selections in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Smith reportedly received a $43,500 payment and a total of $73,500 in loans with a note about “options to recoup the money” when the former North Carolina State star did not sign with the agency.
Adebayo allegedly received a $12,000 loan and a later reference showed he also took another $36,500 payment from ASM. The former Kentucky star did not sign with ASM.
Yahoo reported it reached out to officials at Kentucky, North Carolina State and Washington among other schools. Those schools either initially declined comment or did not reply to Yahoo’s request.
Fultz was a consensus five-star prospect and a McDonald’s All-American who played at national power DeMatha Catholic (Md.) before he signed with the Huskies.
He only spent one season at UW, averaging 23.2 points and 5.9 assists. The 6-foot-4 Fultz was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fultz has played only four games with the Sixers this season after sustaining a shoulder injury. He took part in 4-on-4 drills earlier this month, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Athletic reported the Sixers don’t know if Fultz’s revamped shooting mechanics caused the injury or if his injury led him to change his shot.
Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo told reporters Feb. 9 he was unsure if Fultz would return from his injury this season.
“There’s always a chance that he’s going to be out there soon, and there’s a chance that he’s not going to play this year,” Colangelo said. “I can’t answer that question because we don’t know the answer to that.”