Mike Anderson: FBI probe of hoops 'stunning'

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson speaks to reporters during the Razorbacks' annual media day on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson speaks to reporters during the Razorbacks' annual media day on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said he isn't losing any sleep about the FBI's investigation into college basketball.

The investigation alleges bribery involving coaches, agents, and shoe and clothing apparel company Adidas to entice top recruits to sign with certain schools.

So far the probe has resulted in the arrest of four assistant coaches and the Louisville administration's decision to fire Naismith Hall of Famer Rick Pitino.

"The thing I'm proud of is that I have surrounded myself with people who see the vision I have when you talk about how we do it at Arkansas is the right way," Anderson said Tuesday during the Razorbacks' media day. "And I think people across the country know that.

"We may not get some kids because of that, but I can go to sleep at night."

Anderson, going into his seventh season at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and 16th as an NCAA Division I head coach, has signed one McDonald's High School All-American.

That was Bobby Portis, from Little Rock Hall, who was the SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore during the 2014-2015 season and then entered the NBA Draft, where he was a first-round pick by the Chicago Bulls.

"We're going to go out and recruit the kids and whoever is influential with the kid in terms of the parents and coaches and things of that nature," Anderson said. "We have always done it the right way."

Anderson said he's had no contact with the FBI in the investigation.

"I haven't talked to them and hopefully I don't intend to talk to them," Anderson said. "One of the things that we always have been is in compliance."

News of the FBI's investigation broke Sept. 26 with the announcement of 10 arrests, including four assistant coaches: Auburn's Chuck Person, Arizona's Emanuel Richardson, Southern California's Tony Bland and Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans, who formerly was at South Carolina.

Kobie Baker, an administrative assistant at Alabama, resigned last week.

"It's kind of stunning really when you see what has taken place, and it's not a good look for college basketball," Anderson said. "But I don't think it's a statement for the entirety of college basketball.

"I don't think all coaches or programs are of that nature, but there's no question about it, that it's a shot at college basketball.

"There are some great coaches out there with great programs that do things the right way."

Georgia Coach Mark Fox said last week he wasn't surprised to learn about the alleged bribery going on in college basketball.

"It confirms what we probably already felt like was happening in our game," Fox said.

Fox said Georgia's coaches will continue "to do this job in an honorable way" in recruiting.

"We're not going to put the university at risk," Fox said. "We're not going to put our kids at risk, and we're going to work as hard as we can to do this job the right way."

Anderson said he couldn't address specific instances of bribery by other schools in recruiting, telling reporters he has heard the same thing as the public through media reports.

"But evidently there is something out there, and the FBI and investigators are going to get to the bottom of it," he said. "And it could be far-reaching in a lot of different places."

Anderson's staff includes assistant coaches Melvin Watkins, T.J. Cleveland and Scotty Thurman.

Thurman, a former All-SEC forward for the Razorbacks, is going into his second season as an assistant coach after being on Anderson's staff in an administrative role.

"It's unfortunate when you're in this profession to have that kind of light shed on it," Thurman said of the FBI investigation. "But at the same time, we can't really worry about those programs.

"We feel like here we do things the right way. So I don't want to speak about any other programs. But Coach Anderson and myself and coach Watkins and coach Cleveland, we know how to get things done.

"We try to do things the right way and as long as we do that, we can go sleep well every night."

Thurman said the FBI investigation into college basketball came as unexpected news.

"It definitely was surprising because of the fact it was the FBI and not the NCAA," Thurman said. "But at the same time, I realize that things happen.

"There are things on the circuit that you hear about but never see. For me fortunately, I haven't had to be a part of any of that. Here at Arkansas we try to do things the right way and present the program the right way. We want high-character guys, and in order to do that we have to be men of integrity as well."

Anderson was asked whether the FBI investigation -- and the scare it will put into coaches who are cheating -- will help level the recruiting process for clean programs even if it creates negative publicity for the sport.

"It's just unfortunate," Anderson said. "But if it will clean it up, it's needed."

And what does it say that the FBI is investigating college basketball?

"That it's serious," Anderson said. "It's serious."

Arkansas

men’s basketball

LAST SEASON 26-10, 12-6 SEC; reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament EXHIBITION GAMES Red-White game, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.; Central Oklahoma, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.; Missouri Western, Nov. 3, 7 p.m. (all games at Walton Arena, Fayetteville) SEASON OPENER Samford, Walton Arena, Nov. 10, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

Sports on 10/04/2017

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