Mid-Major Morning Mashups: San Diego Point-Shaving Scandal Edition

In the days and weeks to follow the details of the University of San Diego point-shaving scandal may or may not come to the surface - it's too soon to tell. What isn't in doubt however is the irreparable damage to the individuals who have been indicted in this case, particularly Thaddeus Brown, Brandon Dowdy and Brandon Johnson.

Unlike most who will cover this story as it unfolds, I've had the opportunity to get to know Johnson and interact with him as recently as a week ago as part of my work as a TV reporter in Bismarck, North Dakota covering the Dakota Wizards. The diminutive guard spent the majority of the season with this D-League franchise, not always performing at a highly productive level, but always smiling and getting along with teammates. My conversations with Johnson were always pleasant, as he struck me as both a light-hearted and driven young man. I won't pretend to know Johnson beyond my time covering him in Bismarck, nor will I begin to speculate what he is like in his private life. But the heart wrenching reaction of the Wizards Direction of Basketball Operations when I informed him of Johnson's arrest tells me everything I need to know - this was a well liked individual.

 I don't know the details of Johnson's involvement - none of us do. For now I'm left feeling for a young man who through one poor decision has not only brought his basketball career to an end, but completely altered his future in a way that may not be completely correctable.

Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times: "Shocked by allegations that gamblers sought to fix basketball games by bribing players, officials at UC Riverside and the University of San Diego pledged Monday to cooperate fully with federal authorities. An indictment unsealed Monday in San Diego alleges that 10 people were involved in a conspiracy to fix games, including a former assistant coach at USD, a star player at USD and an athlete who played at both USD and UC Riverside. Thaddeus Brown, 32, was an assistant coach at USD. Brandon Johnson, 24, is the school's all-time scoring leader and assist maker. Brandon Dowdy, 22, played at both USD and UC Riverside. Johnson allegedly received a bribe to influence a game in February 2010 and approached a player with a bribe offer in January 2011, after he had left the team, according to the indictment. Brown was an assistant coach in 2006-07 and had left the university before the alleged bribe attempts mentioned in the indictment. Dowdy played at USD in the 2006-07 season and then transferred to UC Riverside, where he played from 2008-10. According to the indictment, Brown and Dowdy solicited a player to influence a game at UC Riverside in February 2011."

10News in San Diego: "As word of the indictment against a former University of San Diego assistant basketball coach and two former players spread across the USD campus on Monday, other student athletes said they were disappointed to hear about them. "It's definitely a serious allegation," said USD football player Matt Peleti. "USD has a very strong reputation for following NCAA rules [and] not violating major laws, so it's definitely kind of a shock." Former USD assistant basketball coach Thaddeus Brown and former players Brandon Johnson and Brandon Dowdy were among 10 people named in a federal indictment unsealed Monday in connection with an alleged sports-bribery ring that offered bribes to college basketball players to fix games. USD has a clean reputation and was founded on Roman Catholic beliefs. Part of the university's mission statement says it is "preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service," but the conduct that Brown, Johnson and Dowdy are accused of is anything but ethical. "It comes down on them as people more so, I think, than the school itself," said Mason Mills, the quarterback of USD's football team. "People react when they hear the name USD, but I don't think it will tarnish the image of the school as much as it will them."

Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Cheating has been a staple longer than unleavened bread at Seder. Safe to say it's been going on in sports for 4,000 years, probably when 10 prehistoric European Men tossed rocks into Pterodactyl nests and one of them took a bribe. Sports long have been vulnerable, because people good and bad gamble on games. Particularly susceptible have been the colleges, where so many athletes emerge from poverty, and the NCAA and colleges who use them - particularly the stars - to earn billions, pay them nothing. And, because there are hundreds of thousands of student-athletes, it's like trying to monitor New Year's Eve on Times Square. Now the University of San Diego, until Monday thought to have an athletic department so clean you could perform brain surgery on its floors, has gotten its hands dipped into the muck of a filthy basketball bribery plot that even involved a SWAT standoff for one of the alleged co-conspirators. The U.S. attorney's office and the FBI announced Monday that 10 people have been indicted in connection with a sports bribery scheme - involving basketball games, drugs and bookmaking - and among the 10 are at least two former USD players and an ex-Toreros assistant coach."

From the NCAA's official response to the indictments: "As the this news demonstrates, the threat is real and no campus is immune. From our own research, we know that 1.6 percent of Division I men's basketball student-athletes have reported being asked to affect the outcome of the game. While this number may be considered low by some, any incident is too many. For this reason, the NCAA and its members have taken a leadership role to address the issues involving sports wagering in an effort to reduce the incidence of point shaving. These initiatives included national and targeted educational outreach, as well as strong enforcement efforts for all divisions and sports. In addition, the NCAA regularly works with outside organizations such as local, state and federal law enforcement and Las Vegas gaming officials, each of whom have a vested interest in the issue."

Andy Katz of ESPN.com: "University of Miami officials flew to Boston on Monday to meet with Harvard's Tommy Amaker in an attempt to woo the Crimson coach to the ACC school, multiple sources told ESPN.com. Amaker, who played and later was an assistant coach at Duke, coached Harvard to its first Ivy League title this past season. The Crimson shared the crown with Princeton and then lost the Ivy League playoff game on a buzzer-beater. The Crimson then lost at Oklahoma State in the first round of the NIT, finishing 23-7 (12-2 in the Ivy). Miami is searching for a replacement for Frank Haith, who took the Missouri job earlier this month. Amaker has already coached in power-six leagues, serving head coach stints at Seton Hall and Michigan, in addition to being an assistant at Duke. Amaker has told ESPN.com on a number of occasions how much he likes coaching at Harvard and how he wants to coach the Crimson to the NCAA tournament. The Crimson will be the Ivy League favorites next season with the majority of the roster returning, including Ivy League player of the year Keith Wright."

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