Hey, was anyone feeling good about the recent direction of the South Carolina men’s basketball team? Well, surprise! That federal probe into college basketball corruption that hasn’t been heard from in several months and kind of faded into the background? It’s back in the news cycle, and South Carolina has officially received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.
According to Sports Illustrated, the notice brings a Level I infraction to bear against the program, which is the most serious violation it can hand out. The allegation concerns bribes accepted by former assistant coach Lamont Evans to steer then-Gamecock P.J. Dozier to a specific agent. While Evans took that act to Oklahoma State (and was subsequently fired after admitting to it), this situation involves a player the Gamecocks leaned on heavily in their historic Final Four run — and could retroactively put his eligibility, and thus that season, in danger.
However, here’s the most important takeaway if you started to hyperventilate reading that last sentence: South Carolina’s involvement in this probe is not to the deep-shit level of Kansas and N.C. State, which have also recently received NOAs. Sports Illustrated notes that in this letter, there are no accusations of failure to monitor the program or lack of institutional control, either (and especially both) of which is NCAA-speak for getting taken out behind the woodshed.
Perhaps even more crucially, it also appears that Dozier didn’t play along in the scheme:
The Enforcement staff included no language in its NOA alleging that Dozier accepted money from Evans or Dawkins [the agent in question], which would have retroactively jeopardized the current Denver Nugget’s eligibility and potentially led to a forfeiture of wins—including victories that came during the Gamecocks’ 2017 Final Four run. Lacking that type of allegation, it would appear that that season is not subject to being vacated.
Whew. There’s more to watch for in this still-developing story, but I’d say this is about as encouraging as it gets when your program, however incidentally, is involved in a scandal. But don’t take it from me, take it from athletic director Ray Tanner:
“As expected, this does not involve any institutional, current coaching staff or former or current student-athlete eligibility issues,” athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement to SI. “We will continue to defend our program and institution in this process with the NCAA.”