In a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today, Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore‘s AAU coach in St. Louis received thousands in cash, trips, hotel stays, and meals “from a middle man who courted the Kansas player on behalf of sports agents and financial advisers” during this past school year in an effort to steer McLemore toward the NBA and the sports agency. I cannot do justice to the excellent reporting by Mr. Prisbell so I will leave it to everyone to read the details of the report in the link provided.
The worry here is that the NCAA may hold the University of Kansas and Ben McLemore responsible for the actions of others not connected in any way to the university. The NCAA prohibits players, and their friends and families, from accepting financial gifts from anyone. According to the USA Today report:
Cobb says Blackstock cultivated a relationship with himself and McLemore’s family and introduced them to multiple Los Angeles-based sports agents during the season. McLemore knew “little to none” about Blackstock’s financial involvement in the player’s life, Cobb said, nor did McLemore know that Cobb had accepted $10,000 from Blackstock.
Darius Cobb, who has known McLemore and his family since McLemore was 6 years old, was a guest of McLemore’s at a number of Jayhawk games this past season. According to NCAA rules, players are allowed 4 guests per game. The middle man, Rodney Blackstock, also appeared on McLemore’s guest list during the season. I do not the exact process but I assume athletic departments do some vetting with players’ guest.
This a direct quote from Prisbell’s report:
In a statement on Saturday, Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said, “Late this afternoon we received an inquiry regarding the relationship between the family of Ben McLemore and a third party, Rodney Blackstock. This was the first time this inquiry had been presented to us. In accordance with the conditions and obligations of its membership in the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, the University of Kansas will review the information and process it with both of those entities if necessary. We are not in a position to comment further at this time.”
It is concerning that the university could be held accountable for anything like this situation that would help a player leave the school early. If people are paying off friends and family members to advise players to leave school, that is obviously against the schools’ best interests in most cases. If the player had no idea this was going on behind his back, then neither the player, nor the school should be penalized. It is understood that some of the AAU coaches and sports agents can be shady characters. Hopefully, the NCAA’s investigation will prove no one at the University of Kansas, including McLemore himself, had no involvement in this situation.
KC Kingdom will keep an eye on this situation going forward.