Andy Enfield, Larry Krystkowiak defend programs after Yahoo! Sports report on potential NCAA violations
Chemzie Metu, one of two current Pac-12 student-athletes named in a Yahoo! Sports report released on Friday alleging he received improper payments from a sports agency in violation of NCAA rules, was cleared to play by USC and scored 14 points in the Trojans' 74-58 victory over Utah on Saturday.
USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann released a statement early Saturday addressing Metu's status and that of teammate Bennie Boatwright, who was also named in the Yahoo! Sports report:
"USC's Office of Athletic Compliance launched an immediate investigation to determine the eligibility of Chimezie Metu, who was among those noted in a media report about payments by agents to college basketball players or their family members. Based on the available documents and a number of interviews, we determined that Chimezie is eligible to play in today's game at Utah. If additional information becomes available, we will act accordingly.
"Bennie Boatwright, who was included in the media report, is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Regardless, USC's compliance staff will look into the allegations related to Bennie.
"USC Athletics places the highest priority on athletic compliance and does not tolerate violations of USC policies or NCAA rules. We take all allegations very seriously and will continue to work with the NCAA on these issues."
Head coach Andy Enfield spoke to Pac-12 Networks before Saturday's game in Salt Lake City to discuss the mood of his team.
USC was just one of three Pac-12 schools involved in Friday's report by Yahoo! Sports. Documents related to a federal investigation of college basketball reportedly show former athletes at Utah and Washington also received money from associates at an agency called ASM Sports.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak strongly defended his program at his postgame press conference, saying "there's nothing NCAA wise illegal within our program. With the system, if it's ever time for a fix it's now." Hear Krystkowiak's comments in full here:
According to Yahoo!, expense reports show former ASM Sports employee Christian Dawkins sought reimbursement for payments to Boatwright (and/or his father Bennie Sr.) and Metu. USC Athletics issued a statement Friday in response to the report:
"We just became aware of this new information through media sources, and we take these allegations very seriously. USC Athletics places the highest priority on athletic compliance, and as we have demonstrated, we do not tolerate violations of our policies or NCAA rules. We will fully cooperate with the NCAA and federal authorities as well as conduct our own investigation into these allegations."
Current Los Angeles Laker and former Utah player Kyle Kuzma also appeared on a Dawkins expense report, allegedly receiving payments while still attending school. ESPN reporter Kyle Bonagura posted a statement from Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill:
"We learned this information this morning just like everyone else. Unethical agents have been an issue in college athletics – particularly men's basketball and football – for many years despite repeated educational efforts by the schools. Certainly this is a topic that our Pac-12 reform committee on NCAA men's basketball is addressing. Personally, I welcome the scrutiny on the sport of men's basketball because the behavior of some agents, along with reports of other illegal recruiting activities, is hurting the sport. Coach [Larry] Krystkowiak has a great deal of integrity and runs a clean program, but this situation shows there are areas outside of a coach's control that need to be fixed."
Krystkowiak followed up with his own reply to the allegations:
"This situation came to my attention this morning and I have absolutely no knowledge about it. At this point, these are allegations. I know we run a clean program and my complete focus will be getting our squad ready for our game against USC."
An ASM document also shows current Philadelphia 76er Markelle Fultz received a "loan" prior to his one season at Washington. A University of Washington spokesperson issued this statement:
"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. We take these allegations very seriously, and are working to gather some 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."
Friday's reports come in the wake of the arrests of former assistant coaches Emanuel "Book" Richardson of Arizona and Tony Bland of USC last September for allegedly receiving bribes to steer players toward Dawkins' services when turning professional.