• May 23, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Scandal engulfs Iowa State; officials deny wrongdoing

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Posted: Monday, March 20, 2006 12:00 am

It's been a long week for the ISU men's basketball program.

Just three days after the team failed to receive an invitation to the NIT, CBS SportsLine.com broke a story naming Iowa State as the centerpiece of a major scheduling and recruiting scandal. The same day, Cyclone stars Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson officially declared their availability for the NBA draft.

Then, two days later, ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard announced that coach Wayne Morgan had been fired after a review of many factors, including Iowa State's possible involvement in the scandal.

CBS SportsLine.com writer Gregg Doyel broke the story of the complicated cash-for-recruits system in which teams schedule their non-conference games through a company called D1 Scheduling.

Schools, specifically Iowa State, pay D1 Scheduling a fee to "guarantee" games with other schools. The problem, however, is that the money Iowa State pays is not going to the other team, but to company co-founder and Los Angeles City College Coach Mike Miller.

Miller, in turn, Doyel said, steers top players from his program to teams using D1 Scheduling after pocketing the extra money.

For example, Iowa State paid D1 Scheduling $40,000 for a game against Tennessee State in 2004, but Tennessee State received only $10,000, with D1 Scheduling appearing to pull in a profit of $30,000.

Although Tennessee State appears to have forfeited 75 percent of its profit, it also has three former LACC players on its team.

Iowa State has just one LACC player, Anthony Davis, on its team and Morgan defended his recruitment, citing a pre-existing relationship with Davis well before D1 Scheduling was formed in August 2004.

"I have known and had a close relationship with Davis since his junior year at Compton Centennial High School in Los Angeles," Morgan said. "At the beginning of his senior year, Anthony [Davis] signed a letter of intent to attend Long Beach State where I was the head coach.

"When I departed California, Anthony [Davis] did not want to continue at Long Beach State and elected to go to Los Angeles City College because their coach, Mike Miller, was considered one of the best junior college coaches in America. When I accepted the job at Iowa State, Anthony [Davis] wanted to play for me at Iowa State. His attendance at Iowa State has absolutely nothing to do with D1 Scheduling."

Morgan also defended the use of D1 Scheduling to secure "competitive and attractive non-conference schedules."

"There has never been a time in the past or present that Iowa State or myself specifically have done anything that was not straightforward, honest and above board," Morgan said. "It has not been easy to get highly regarded teams to Ames for non-conference games. D1 Scheduling enabled us to secure a good non-conference schedule at the median market price. I have never spoken to anyone relative to either financial profit, securing players or even the actual scheduling of any games."

Pollard was quick to defend Iowa State's use of D1 Scheduling, denying any wrongdoing on Iowa State's end, but expressed his disappointment with the negative publicity for the program.

"We're extremely disappointed that our institution has been cast in a negative light as a result of our men's basketball scheduling practices the past three years," Pollard said. "The administration had the contracts reviewed legally and certainly had no knowledge of potential improprieties related to using their services.

"I honestly believe that Iowa State University did not knowingly do anything wrong as it relates to scheduling these non-conference games. But given the appearance of impropriety, we will not enter into any more contracts with D1 Scheduling going forward."

Pollard's disappointment came to a head two days later in the form of Morgan's firing. Pollard said that the scheduling problems were not the only reason, but they were not something that Pollard wants associated with Iowa State.

"The fact that the situation came about is not the reason [Morgan was let go], because we still believe that there are no NCAA violations by Iowa State and there wasn't anything illegally done by Iowa State," Pollard said. "None of our staff - including our coaches - intentionally entered anything that was inappropriate. It did a lot to damage the momentum of this basketball program.

"Although the events of this week concerning basketball scheduling is not the reason we are making this change, the timing of that situation and the negative national publicity that Iowa State is receiving has contributed to the timing of our decision."

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