Jerry Tarkanian was right.

From Wikipedia:

Just months before the 1976–1977 season, the NCAA placed UNLV on two years’ probation for “questionable practices.” Although the alleged violations dated back to 1971—before Tarkanian became coach—the NCAA pressured UNLV into suspending Tarkanian as coach for two years. Tarkanian sued, claiming the suspension violated his right to due process. In October 1977, a Nevada judge issued an injunction that reinstated Tarkanian as coach.[15] The case eventually made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in 1988 that the NCAA had the right to discipline its member schools, reversing the 1977 injunction.[21] [22]

In the decade between the original suspension and the Supreme Court ruling, it was revealed that the NCAA’s enforcement process was stacked heavily in the NCAA’s favor — so heavily, in fact, that it created a perception that there was no due process. The enforcement staff was allowed to build cases on hearsay, and shared few of their findings with the targeted school. The resulting negative publicity led the NCAA to institute a clearer separation between the enforcement staff and the infractions committee, as well as a system for appeals. Also, hearsay evidence was no longer admissible in infractions cases.[23]

It’s taken decades, but the NCAA, looking to recapture the old magic, may have found its hammer.

The NCAA on Thursday asked for permission to intervene in a federal court case related to the FBI’s college basketball investigation.

Since the October conclusion of a trial that saw three men convicted of fraud for their roles in the pay-to-play scheme involving multiple college basketball programs including the University of Louisville, the NCAA has been attempting to gather more information to use in its own investigation.

Thursday’s motion was filed in the Southern District of New York “for the limited purpose of obtaining materials,” including 24 trial exhibits and an unredacted copy of a sentencing memorandum for defendant Jim Gatto.

“Although not a party to the case, the NCAA has a strong interest in the proceedings given the role its rules played at trial and its responsibility to enforce those rules,” the motion reads. “The requested materials will permit the NCAA to investigate potential rule violations, take enforcement action if warranted, and consider reforms to prevent future violations.”

Remember, all this came about as a result of building a questionable criminal case out of violating NCAA eligibility rules.  Mark Emmert’s good with that, but I’m not sure we should be.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, The NCAA

19 responses to “Jerry Tarkanian was right.

  1. Derek

    If the convicted conduct violated federal law AND NCAA rules simultaneously, why do we care?

    If Goodell coordinates with Florida authorities to determine what’s to be done with Bob Kraft, so what?

    It seems to me that you can violate the membership rules of a private club AND criminal statutes all at the same time.


  2. Mayor

    Has a federal appellate court ever signed off on this criminal prosecution? I don’t see a crime here.


    • Derek

      Law enforcement, the justice department, a jury and a federal judge did, but I’m sure they’re all operating on less info than you.

      An appellate court will get a shot at it too.


      • Russ

        What was the crime again? And who was harmed?


        • Derek

          Interestingly enough, many federal crimes need no actual harm. A conspiracy to commit murder can be prosecuted after an agreement and one step to achieve the goal: acquiring a gun, conducting surveillance, even tho the victim was unharmed and without knowledge the crime had been contemplated or committed.

          You could borrow a nickel from a bank based upon your representation that you are a billionaire, return the nickel that very day and you’ve committed federal bank fraud.

          The frauds that are prosecuted mainly deal in potential rather than actual harm. The general questions are:

          Did you lie?

          Did you know you were lying?

          Did you lie with the purpose of making money, whether that windfall actually came to fruition or not? (In other words, you were guilty before you got the nickel itself.). That’s true even if no one would ever believe you.

          What you guys are talking about isn’t what is or isn’t a crime, what you’re discussing is prosecutorial discretion and priority. Those are debatable and often political choices and subjectivity is certainly at play there.

          The idea tho that these guys are charged with violating NCAA rules is a false narrative. They were convicted of fraud. They lied to line their pockets and did so using some interstate conveyance. That’s pretty much all you have to show.

          This is the 11th Circuit pattern instruction for wire fraud:

          “18 U.S.C. § 1343
          It’s a Federal crime to use interstate wire, radio, or television communications to carry out a scheme to defraud someone else.
          The Defendant can be found guilty of this crime only if all the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:
          (1) the Defendant knowingly devised or participated in a scheme to defraud someone by using false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises;
          (2) the false pretenses, representations, or promises were about a material fact;
          (3) the Defendant acted with the intent to defraud; and
          (4) the Defendant transmitted or caused to be transmitted by [wire] [radio] [television] some communication in interstate commerce to help carry out the scheme to defraud.
          A “scheme to defraud” means any plan or course of action intended to deceive or cheat someone out of money or property by using false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.
          A statement or representation is “false” or “fraudulent” if it is about a material fact that the speaker knows is untrue or makes with reckless indifference to the truth, and makes with the intent to defraud. A statement or representation may be “false” or “fraudulent” when it is a half-truth, or effectively conceals a material fact, and is made with the intent to defraud.

          A “material fact” is an important fact that a reasonable person would use to decide whether to do or not do something. A fact is “material” if it has the capacity or natural tendency to influence a person’s decision. It doesn’t matter whether the decision-maker actually relied on the statement or knew or should have known that the statement was false.
          To act with “intent to defraud” means to act knowingly and with the specific intent to use false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises to cause loss or injury. Proving intent to deceive alone, without the intent to cause loss or injury, is not sufficient to prove intent to defraud.
          The Government does not have to prove all the details alleged in the indictment about the precise nature and purpose of the scheme. It also doesn’t have to prove that the material transmitted by interstate [wire] [radio] [television] was itself false or fraudulent; or that using the [wire] [radio] [television] was intended as the specific or exclusive means of carrying out the alleged fraud; or that the Defendant personally made the transmission over the [wire] [radio] [television]. And it doesn’t have to prove that the alleged scheme actually succeeded in defrauding anyone.
          To “use” interstate [wire] [radio] [television] communications is to act so that something would normally be sent through wire, radio, or television communications in the normal course of business.”

          Here the intended or potential loss was they knew the affected player would be ineligible by their conduct and that the schools could then unknowingly (or knowingly) play the kid thereby forfeiting games or championships or lose their investment in the player. See the language that suggests you can defraud someone who KNOWS you’re lying. So Pitino could know the truth and that’s no defense.

          My advice in dealing with anything in the feds purview, which is damn near everything? Never ever lie. Trust me, they got a law to cover that and then some.


          • Martha Stewart approves of this message……


          • Mayor

            I agree with you about lying–don’t do it. Period. Whether or not there is a law against it. My questions, with no snark intended, are: (1) Who got defrauded, and (2) what did they get defrauded out of? (Sorry for the bad grammar.) So its against NCAA rules for someone to pay a player to go to a certain college and a booster or someone else who has an interest in a certain player going to that college pays a player to go there. I see an NCAA rules violation by both the player and the payor. I don’t see fraud as defined under the above statute, no matter how the payment was made or the offer communicated.


            • Derek

              Anyone and everyone, entity and individuals, who had a reasonable expectation that the player was eligible for college competition and was at a risk of any tangible or intangible loss due to the ineligibility.

              Its broad.

              In my “lying about being a billionaire to get a nickel at the bank” scenario, the people defrauded include:

              the bank’s officers
              the FDIC
              the bank’s depositors
              the bank’s investors, etc…

              Wen it comes to fraud the effort is to dissuade the misrepresentation, no encourage people to lie with the hopes that no loss will follow.

              In other words, why let a guy get away with lying to get a million dollar loan, simply because he’s making payments. If you do, you’re encouraging the next liar who may not make all his payments.


        • Gaskilldawg

          The crime was that the payments made the players ineligible under NCAA rules, and as a result the universities certified in writing to the NCAA that the players were eligible. Thus, the schools were at risk for NCAA fines.


          • The crime was wire fraud.


            • Mayor

              Federal prosecutors can and are often very creative in their theories. I remember a few years ago when the feds prosecuted Harmon Wages for distribution of cocaine because he snorted cocaine with women before having sex with them. The theory was the sex was consideration for the cocaine. A trial judge approved that theory too.


            • Gaskilldawg

              The fraud part was the universities not knowing they were certifying ineligible players


    • Gaskilldawg

      To answer your question, no.
      The District Judge in New York considered that same argument, along with briefing by defendants and the US attorney.
      There are other defendants being prosecuted in other districts. I’ll bet a dollar the other defendants have filed demurrers. As of yet no trial Judge has ruled that no crime was committed.

      The doe not mean a cicrcuit court or the Supremes won’t agree with you, but your argument is batting an 0-for to date.


  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    I wonder what UNLV’s punishment was? They made the final four in 77. Omni.


  4. OrlandoDawg

    Any Tark reference is a good reason to recall his most famous quote: “The NCAA was so mad at Kentucky they gave Cleveland State two more years of probation.”


  5. ASEF

    Two years probation and an order to suspend Tarkanian.

    Side note: The order to suspend Tarkanian never got implemented because of the injunction. Once that was legally resolved 14 years later, the NCAA added on a NCAA tournament ban for the ’91 team, which was defending national champs, with Larry Johnson and Stacy Augmon returning. UNLV appealed, the NCAA relented, and that became the Duke UNLV semi final. In which UNLV was called for 5 more fouls, shot 6 less free throws, point guard Greg Anthony spent the entire game in foul trouble, and no Duke player ended the night with more than 3 fouls. Despite the fact Duke was by far the most physical team on the floor. One of the most lopsided officiating efforts I have ever seen in a NCAA tournament game.

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