Ole Miss opens, closes internal review in response to FBI’s investigation into college basketball

Published 4:01 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

An internal review of Ole Miss’ men’s basketball program launched last month has been closed with no “red flags” being found, athletic director Ross Bjork said.

Ole Miss began the review shortly after a federal investigation into the sport resulted in 10 people, including assistant coaches at Auburn, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal and Arizona, being arrested on corruption charges in September for allegedly accepting bribes to steer players toward certain agents and financial advisors.

The NCAA sent out a memo shortly after the news broke directing programs to conduct an internal review, but Bjork said Ole Miss didn’t wait on that order to start. Bjork said last week there were a few more things to look into but confirmed Thursday the review was over.

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Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said during SEC Media Days last month he had not been contacted by the FBI or the NCAA about an investigation into any of his players. Bjork said he nor anybody else in the athletic department has been contacted either.

“There’s no red flags that we’ve discovered in anything,” Bjork said. “We trust in how Andy runs the program and our players, their backgrounds and all those things. We’ve looked into all sorts of different aspects of it.

“Just the nature of this was so big, and it looked like early indications are that it could be widespread. You want to make sure. You want to do everything you can to make sure.”

Auburn’s Chuck Person, Arizona’s Emanuel Richardson, USC’s Tony Bland and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this week. Person, Richardson and Evans have been fired while USC has put Bland on administrative leave.

The probe goes beyond those programs.

Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were fired for the program’s alleged involvement. Alabama freshman point guard Collin Sexton, a five-star signee, was held out of the Crimson Tide’s exhibition game and has yet to have his eligibility reinstated after reportedly being the unnamed player identified in a federal complaint against Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel. Former Alabama associate athletic director Kobie Baker resigned in September for his involvement in the probe.

Kennedy said in the days after news of the FBI’s probe broke he wasn’t completely surprised by the allegations.

“I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, so was I shocked to hear about some of the things that came out? No, I was not,” Kennedy said. “But when the feds are involved and they’ve got what they seem to have, there are people going to jail and federal indictments are being handed out, obviously it makes everybody stop and pay attention.”

Ole Miss opens its season Friday with a 7 p.m. tip against Louisiana at The Pavilion.