A pay-for-play sneaker investigation conducted by the FBI and focused on Adidas and several coaches rocked the college basketball world this fall.
Louisville got hit hardest with five-star recruit Brian Bowen at the center of the controversy, his family accused of accepting payments from Adidas to play for the Cardinals.
Bowen, who was suspended and eventually cut loose by Louisville has been silent on the issue. Until now.
He spoke with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Thursday and dropped a bit of a bombshell.
“I was shocked,” Bowen told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.” “I didn’t believe it at all. … They have to be lying. There’s no way I’m involved in it. I don’t know anything about it.”
Bowen told ESPN he found out about the scandal when it hit the media.
The FBI alleges that Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen Sr. accepted $100,000 from Adidas at the request of a Cardinals coach to sign with Louisville.
Since the scandal broke, Louisville fired Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who sued the school for $38.7 million citing breach of contract. Louisville has since countersued, seeking monetary damages for games vacated under Pitino’s watch, 2013’s national championship included.
It’s been a giant mess. And now this.
Bowen told ESPN that he has not spoken with his father about the alleged payments and is actively avoiding that conversation.
“I don’t want to know anything about it,” Bowen said. “I’ve let him know I’m very upset as far as not being able to play and everything. As far as, you know, the investigation and everything, I don’t even want to talk about it at all.”
Bowen said that he still wants to play college basketball, that it had been his dream to do so. It seems beyond the pale that any school would risk tying itself to this scandal in any way, regardless of whether or not that’s fair to Bowen. He’s never setting foot on a college court.
All the while, the NCAA’s perpetual greed and insistence on maintaining the guise of amateurism while raking in billions is at the heart of this, and many other college athletics scandals.
Its stance of keeping athletes broke while running minor league funnels to the NFL and NBA has resulted, in this case, in a major basketball program left in tatters and Bowen with nowhere to play. It’s all completely unnecessary. Treat college sports as the business it is, and the FBI doesn’t feel compelled to get involved when a player gets paid for his services and value.
Bowen summed the whole situation up to ESPN better and more succinctly than any sports writer can.
“I feel like I’m a victim because of greedy adults.”