LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The NCAA has resumed its investigation of the University of Louisville men's basketball program and alleged violations in its recruitment of high school All-American Brian Bowen, two sources told WDRB.
According to one source, NCAA associate director of enforcement Nate Leffler interviewed a Louisville businessman on Tuesday about Bowen, former assistant coach Kenny Johnson and aspiring agent Christian Dawkins. The source said that Chuck Smrt, president of The Compliance Group, also was present for the interview.
Smrt, an attorney whose company advises schools on NCAA issues, worked for the university during a previous investigation into the Katina Powell/Andre McGee stripper and prostitution scandal.
That situation led to the school being forced to vacate its 2013 NCAA title, its 2012 Final Four appearance and 123 victories over four seasons, as well as being placed on a four-year probation on June 15, 2017.
John Karman, director of communications for U of L, said via email that Smrt remains a consultant for the university but that the school has retained "outside counsel with a nationally known reputation in these matters" for representation in dealings with the NCAA. Karman said he was unable to confirm whether any interviews have taken place, and said that the university had not received any official notice from the NCAA since receiving a verbal notice of inquiry of possible violations on March 8.
The NCAA has yet to respond to a request for comment. Its policy, however, is not to comment on open investigations.
Regardless, evidence of renewed NCAA activity in the wake of a widespread and much-publicized college basketball corruption scandal has been plentiful in recent weeks.
North Carolina State received a notice of allegations alleging four violations stemming from the recruitment of eventual one-and-done player Dennis Smith in early July.
In late May, Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president of Division I governance, told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics: "You don't get in the way of a federal investigation . . . but now that the court cases are done, now we're in a position where you're likely to see notices of allegations going to institutions that have violated NCAA rules, etc. I think you can anticipate notices of allegations will be coming."
In early June, NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs Stan Wilcox told CBS Sports, "We're up and ready. We're moving forward and you'll see consequences."
Three weeks ago, Auburn acknowledged in a document submitted in U.S. District Court that it expected to receive a notice of allegations in the coming weeks.
Louisville, however, may be in the most precarious position of any school facing NCAA scrutiny. With Louisville barely halfway through its current probation, the program is at risk of additional sanctions because of its recruitment of Bowen, who surprised many by committing to Rick Pitino's program in June 2017.
On Oct. 24, 2018, Dawkins and two officials from Adidas were convicted in federal court in New York City in connection with a plan to pay top basketball recruits to commit to college basketball programs sponsored by Adidas.
One of those players was Bowen, whose father, Brian Sr., said he was scheduled to be paid $100,000 for his son to attend Louisville.
The federal investigation into Bowen eventually led to the decision by University of Louisville to fire head coach Rick Pitino, assistants Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson and athletic director Tom Jurich.
Pitino has said repeatedly that he had no knowledge that Bowen's father was paid and that he repeatedly instructed his assistants not to break NCAA rules.
Bowen's mother and father moved from Saginaw, Mich., to Louisville and lived downtown in the Galt House. Brian Bowen Sr. said that he received only $25,000 of the $100,000 promised.
Bowen Sr. also testified that he received $1,300 in cash from Johnson for rent for their residence at the Galt House. Bowen said that when he initially asked Johnson for the money the assistant coach was "flabbergasted," and said that after giving him the $1,300 Johnson told Bowen it would be a one-time deal. Johnson later accepted a job as an assistant coach at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, where he will begin his second season.
Bowen was declared ineligible by Louisville. He later transferred to South Carolina, but did not play there either.
After playing professionally in Australia last season, Bowen signed a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers in June. He said he's hoping to move past the controversy that dogged him in college.
For Louisville, that task may be more difficult.
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