It's been a monumentally awful week for Mizzou basketball. It started Tuesday with a soul-crushing loss to border rival Arkansas, and it was followed up with the release from the university that the basketball program had been investigated by the NCAA and that violations had been discovered. This is what happened the two days following David Bowie's death and corresponded with the news that the Stan Kroenke was giving St. Louis a giant middle finger on his way out of town. Frankly, this week has been awful.
I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at all these horrible violations, try to figure out what happened, and of course, find somebody we can collectively point the finger at and be really upset about. So, let's see where this goes,
Level I - A donor (Representative #1) to MU Athletics provided impermissible benefits to three men's basketball student-athletes and one prospective men's basketball student-athlete from 2013-2014. The impermissible benefits included compensating student-athletes for work-not-performed at a business through a summer internship program. Through the internship program, the donor also provided other impermissible inducements and extra benefits including housing, cash in the amount of $520, local transportation, iPads, meals and arranged for the use of a local gym for the student-athletes, all in violation of NCAA bylaws.
The donor listed as Representative #1 is Mark Tuley, as reported by Dave Matter. Tuley ran an internship program in which Missouri sent players in order to have something to do over the summer, Tuley has since been labeled a rogue booster for his actions. The three players have been deduced to be Jakeenan Gant, Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. Brown's mother refuted Jabari's inclusion, saying he was never a part of any internship. The third player could have also been Tony Criswell, as I have been led to believe that this program ran the course over a few summers. It would make sense that there was one player from the summer before Clarkson took part.
Tuley has since reached out to Gabe DeArmond and provided this statement:
Keep in mind this is a "major" violation because Tuley provided $520, allowed usage of iPads, rides, food, and opened a gym for the players to use. The extent of this "major" violation seems pretty minor if you ask me. And if, as Tuley states, he had full communication with the compliance office and the coaching staff, well, that would mean that the "rogue booster" is anything but. This would put the focus back onto the compliance office, which is responsible for monitoring these things. Who is the person responsible for making sure the compliance office is doing the right thing? I would say it's probably the Athletic director, who at the time was Mike Alden.
You would think that with the past fiasco of how Quin Snyder went down (with Ricky Clemons, Elson Floyd, and everything else), that Alden might want to make sure compliance was a little more up to speed if there were infractions happening.
Level II - A second donor (Representative #2) was discovered to have provided impermissible benefits to 11 student-athletes and three members of one student-athlete's family from 2011-2014. The benefits included providing student-athletes with a "friends & family" reduced rate at a hotel as well as meals and a ride on a recreational boat. A Missouri men's basketball student-manager also provided transportation for multiple student-athletes to the hotel from the Missouri campus, all in violation of NCAA bylaws.
The second donor hasn't been outed to date, but he gave players and their family a discount at his hotel, some food and a boat ride. My favorite violation might be the student manager providing a ride for the guys to the hotel, where they were staying. Being around a basketball team, guys get and give rides all around. If your buddy doesn't have a car, and he needs a ride, why can't you give him a ride? Oh, because a student manager is a representative of the university, meanwhile a student-athlete is not. Got it, makes perfect sense.
Level II - Because the University of Missouri did not fully vet the summer internship employment opportunity and follow-up to request documentation at the conclusion of the 2013 and 2014 internships with Representative #1, the institution was cited with a failure to adequately monitor the internship program.
Another "level two" violation, which is the worst of this whole scenario. This is the compliance office's job to make sure the internship is on the up and up. Athletes have to get cleared through compliance to work in these types of internships. There is paperwork involved, and I was told that the reason Jakeenan's sent up a red flag is because he said he did basically nothing at work when filling out his paperwork. That's an obvious mistake by the young man who didn't know that he was supposed to be doing something. Shouldn't someone along the way explain to Jakeenan how to fill out the paperwork properly?
Let's face it, we all do "basically nothing" most days at work, am I right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Level III - A former associate head men's basketball coach assisted in the relocation of a prospective student-athlete by providing the phone number of the prospect's mother to a donor (Representative #2) to arrange for rental housing. The family paid a market rate for the rental. However, the actions of the former associate head coach are in violation of NCAA bylaws.
Another banner violation from the NCAA. Jakeenan Gant's mother wanted to move to Missouri to be closer to her son, who had already signed a letter of intent to attend school in Columbia, Tim Fuller provided the information for a guy who was renting an apartment, for which she paid FULL MARKET RATE. No discount, no preferential treatment, Fuller helped his player's mother find an apartment, and this is against NCAA rules. Remember, there used to be a limit to the amount of pasta you could eat as a student athlete as well. Let's hope Tim Fuller didn't provide Gant's mother with some pasta.
This is the only violation where we know Tim Fuller was involved. His punishment was that he couldn't recruit off campus for three months, and he was essentially told to go away after the season, leading to this.
Ben Fredrickson said, "that Mizzou agreed to pay (Fuller) a buyout of nearly $100,000 to walk away should tell you a lot about his involvement in the situation." I don't think that tells you anything about his involvement. If the evidence that he was a cheat was so concrete, a 14-month long investigation would turn up more than what we've seen. And the only time he's named is when he connected a landlord to a potential renter. If he was so deeply involved in the cheating, they could terminate his contract. Instead he was given a buyout.
Level III - Representative #1 had multiple impermissible recruiting contacts with a prospective student-athlete and paid for a meal for a non-scholastic coach, in violation of NCAA bylaws.
A "non-scholastic" coach is almost certainly an AAU coach, and impermissible recruiting contact for a donor is basically any contact. The prospective student-athlete could be anyone. Since Tuley is from Georgia, it could have been Gant or Gant's AAU coach, but that doesn't strike me as being the case here. Tuley spent time in both Georgia and Columbia, so the recruit could be anyone. I always love when the NCAA dings somebody for food-related reasons. It just smacks of silliness.
It seemed weird to me that Frank Haith bailed on the program for Tulsa, taking everyone except Tim Fuller. Fuller was then retained by Kim Anderson, and if you believe sources, at the behest of Mike Alden. Anderson doesn't know that the job he just took was being investigated for NCAA violations. A few months later, Mizzou's top recruit and the coach who recruited him are sitting on the sidelines while the NCAA wraps up an investigation of things that happened under Haith, all while Haith is at Tulsa with a contract paying him even more money than he made at Missouri.
Months later, Mike Alden steps down as AD, but one of his last acts is to give Tim Fuller $100,000 to not coach at Missouri. I've also heard accounts of Kim Anderson being out of the loop on Fuller not being retained, which if true is stunning and horrible no matter what you think of Tim Fuller. [Editor's note: I asked Kim Anderson at the press conference following Fuller's departure, "Who's decision was it not to renew Tim Fuller's contract?" and his response was "That's a personnel matter and I can't discuss that." - O.G.] Alden, as he's retiring, tells Dave Matter that he doesn't believe there is anymore trouble with the NCAA and hands everything off to Mack Rhoades and Kim Anderson to sort out.
It would appear to me Mike Alden is where the bulk of the blame lies for Missouri being where it is. Ultimately, the whole "buck stops" with him, but the basketball program is a complete and utter mess, and it was Mike Alden who steered the ship. He hired Frank Haith, and after the Nevin Shapiro situation was coming to light, Alden still allowed compliance to be lax enough for this to happen, even though I think these violations are incredibly minor.
Frank Haith certainly has some blame as well. It was his program. He's now high-tailed it out of two programs prior to getting fired, both times with the NCAA snooping around. At this point, Haith almost has to acknowledge that he likely carries a scarlet letter on his lapel, so he'd better get the job done in Tulsa.
I'm not naive enough to think that Haith, or Fuller for that matter, are completely exculpatory on this matter. Fuller probably should have known better than to get involved in helping Jakeenan's mother find a place to live in Missouri, but I can't find much wrong with their actions without knowing more of what happened. And from what Mark Tuley has said, the focus of the ire of everyone should probably not be on Frank Haith, or Tim Fuller, but on Mike Alden and the compliance office, because the internship, the single biggest violation, went through compliance before coming to fruition.
Look, Kim Anderson's job is to win games, and he hasn't done that. But no coach should be left cleaning up a giant mess without knowing what he's getting into. As one source told me, Kim has been dealing with these issues since he got to Mizzou, and his hands have been tied up trying to clear it up. We won't know exactly when Kim was told, we won't know the exact impact it's had on recruiting, or even the toll it took on the coach. The staff seems relieved now that it's over and they can move on. Kim has the luxury now of just worrying about coaching a team that is historically bad in comparison to other Mizzou teams. Now I'm sure we'll all forget about this the next time the Tigers take the court and lose, but it's certainly changing the discussion of the past year and a half of basketball.