LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville on Wednesday did the right thing where freshman Brian Bowen is concerned.

The 5-star recruit whose father is alleged to have received part of a promised $100,000 -- in exchange for his son attending the University of Louisville and, upon reaching the NBA, signing with adidas, agent Christian Dawkins and financial advisor Merl Code – has been released to transfer to another school and seek eligibility to play there, the school announced.

Bowen says he had no knowledge of the scheme to pay his family, brought to light in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and in subsequent indictments.

According to Bowen’s attorney, the FBI last month released the player “investigative impediments” to NCAA eligibility, presumably because it had no evidence that he knew. Though a man reported to be his father is shown in a federal indictment receiving money as part of the arrangement, neither Bowen nor any member of his family was charged with a crime.

U of L then had the option of declaring him ineligible and exploring whether he could regain that eligibility through an NCAA examination of his circumstances.

Bowen might, in fact, regain eligibility. If the NCAA determines that he had no knowledge of the arrangement, his situation could be much like Cam Newton’s, in which the star quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was allowed to continue playing for Auburn because the NCAA determined he had no part in his father’s asking for money for him to make visits to other schools during his recruitment.

But that’s a process U of L has decided not to embark on. It’s one thing for Bowen to exercise his legal right to attempt play NCAA basketball. It’s another thing for him to attempt to do it at Louisville. It’s one thing for the parties to do right by a player and let him play – if that’s what the evidence demands. But it’s another thing for a school involved in improper recruiting activities to benefit from his talents.

Louisville’s decision Wednesday is an acknowledgment of that. And, if it’s not an outright acknowledgment of wrongdoing on the part of its previous coaching staff, it comes very close. That will have to be determined. The FBI’s own acknowledgment that “the bribe money was structured in a manner so as to conceal it from the NCAA and officials at University-6 (the University of Louisville).”

Bowen, under the arrangement released by Louisville on Wednesday, would be released by the school to transfer to any institution and seek eligibility there. Conceivably, he could play at the start of the next semester, if he received the proper waivers and approvals.

On Tuesday, interim athletic director Vince Tyra told WDRB that he was still looking at the decision and that when he’d reached a conclusion he would come to a quick decision on the matter.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but I’ve got to make a decision that’s best, for the department first, and the basketball program, but I’m certainly trying to be respectful of the timeline as relates to Brian and his future.”

That decision came just a day later. It was a quick decision, in time for Bowen to explore his options. And more importantly, it was the right decision. Bowen could remain at U of L and retain his athletic scholarship, but will not be allowed to practice or play with the team at any point.

“Brian has been a responsible young man for the institution since he enrolled,” Tyra said in a statement released by the university.  “He has endeared himself to his teammates and the men’s basketball staff with a positive attitude during a very difficult period.”

Several national outlets have lumped U of L into a group of entities that have “screwed” Brian Bowen. In this case, U of L’s action – because it comes when it does – allows him the opportunity to transfer elsewhere and begin playing immediately, if he is found to be eligible by the NCAA and clears its various appeals and waiver processes.

What U of L did not do on Wednesday, or at any point apparently, is declare Bowen “ineligible.” It has simply withheld him from competition, and on Wednesday declared that he would not be allowed to participate with the teams. In fact, it has been careful to take no action, at least publicly, where his eligibility is concerned.

Not only would the optics of such a thing be bad, but could expose the school to further NCAA jeopardy.

Bowen’s path to play, while possible, still faces many questions. While the recent indictment of James Gatto described a phone call in which a man, presumably Bowen’s father, would travel to New Jersey and rent a car for the purpose of receiving the first of four planned $25,000 cash payments (the indictment describes $19,500 of $25,000 provided by an FBI undercover agent as earmarked for Bowen), it has no mention of confirmation of the subsequent meeting.

As for Bowen’s services, many coaches no doubt will have a high level of interest. How many schools fear the NCAA cloud that could come along with him, however, remains to be seen.

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