Seton Hall hires law firm to investigate basketball loan allegations, coach says
Seton Hall University basketball coach Kevin Willard said on Saturday that the school hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation in response to allegations stemming from the FBI probe into corruption in college basketball.
On Friday Yahoo! published documents seized in the probe from agent Andy Miller and his ASM Sports agency that appear to allege that former Seton Hall star and current Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead received $26,136 as a loan during his freshman year in violation of NCAA rules.
Asked after his team’s 81-74 overtime win against St. John’s at the Garden, Willard said “the one thing I’ll say is we’ve already hired an outside law firm to come in and do an investigation and, as a staff and as head coach, I am looking forward to having them come in. We’re going to be 100 percent open. We’re going to be 100 percent honest. And I have a lot of confidence in my staff and ourselves of what we’ve done in the past. I am glad the school has moved quickly on this so we can move on from it.”
The documents published by Yahoo! may implicate dozens of programs and even more players. Whitehead’s name is one of more than 20 that appear on a balance sheet under the heading “Loans to Players.” His name appears on another document that indicates there is an alleged payment plan for him to address a loan of $37,657 though it’s unclear when that might have happened. Former Seton Hall assistant coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton, who was Whitehead’s high school coach in Brooklyn and became a Pirates staffer his freshman year, also appears on a document next to the figure $9,500.
Both Willard and St. John’s coach Chris Mullin were asked to assess their confidence that sports agents are not attempting to funnel money to their current players. Mullin responded “I wouldn’t comment on any of that.”
“I am not going to comment on that,” Willard replied. “The only thing I’ve seen is the Yahoo! report. There’s no other facts or details about anything else that’s out there, so I can’t comment. We haven’t done our investigation. We were confident. We went through an [NCAA] investigation [of Whitehead] one other time early on that came out clear and we’ll go through it again and I’m confident it will come out again that everything we were supposed to do, we did the right way.”
During the 1999-2000 season then-St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis reportedly said he closed what had been open practices because he was concerned that representatives for agents were trying to influence his players with money and gifts.
Mullin was asked if agents tried to get close to him or his teammates when he was at St. John’s and replied ‘I didn’t experience that.” He added that he was not concerned that his program would be implicated in the FBI probe.