Amidst a college basketball scandal that has grasped national headlines for over a month, Idaho State made its way onto the stage last week when head men’s basketball coach Bill Evans decided to omit the seven schools involved in the ongoing FBI investigation that saw assistant basketball coaches and some Adidas top executives charged by the FBI on accounts of fraud and corruption.
Evans, with the help of his 12-year-old son, is in his second year voting in the coaches’ poll as he is one of about 60 coaches from across the country selected to cast weekly votes throughout the season.
“I was [teaching my son a lesson] that we don’t want to do those types of things,” Evans told The Bengal. “Those guys don’t want to do those types of things. They don’t. Maybe they have to.”
The story originally surfaced in September as NBC’s Tom Winter reported on Twitter that the FBI had arrested several assistant basketball coaches in the corruption scheme, which was around the time Evans told the USA Today he was making his poll.
Assistant coaches from Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona, USC, and Adidas Global Director of Sports Marketing James Gatto were all charged by the FBI with fraud and corruption.
Other schools allegedly involved were Louisville, who fired long-time coach Rick Pitino, and Miami, who has been involved in a number of other scandals involving their football team in the early 2000s.
The report alleged that the men took part in a scheme which involved coaches accepting bribes to funnel recruits to specific college programs, where they were then funneled to Adidas for representation.
“I have a feeling that those schools were competing against themselves and those players and the way they were going about it,” Evans said, adding that his school is not on the same playing field as the schools involved with the scandal. “Allegedly. I’m not the judge and the jury.”
Evans said he wasn’t sure how withholding his votes would be perceived by college basketball and the sporting world, and said he was being a rebel because he was the only coach selected to cast votes in the poll that didn’t vote for these teams.
Four of the teams involved ranked in the top-20 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, the news organization that originally reported Evans withholding the votes. None of them, including Arizona, who many have dubbed to be a Final Four candidate, were in Evans’ poll. Evans said he would have voted for all of those schools had the allegations not surfaced.
This is Evan’s second year voting in the poll as he was one of about 50-60 coaches selected to cast votes last season as well.
Evans said there are around 60 schools that compete at a high level, and Idaho State is one of the 275 schools that is a different one, adding that he doesn’t personally know any of the head coaches at the schools involved in the scandal.
“When I go into a gym and see Bill Self, Roy Williams and Sean Miller, I’m in the wrong gym,” he said. “I can’t get the guys they are recruiting.”
The coach added that he didn’t think any of the coaches were forced to do what the FBI alleged they did, but they may have felt that they needed to in order to, “even the playing field” if they were to keep their jobs, which pay out millions of dollars each year.
“Just think about making eight million dollars, or six or five or four million dollars a year and losing your job,” Evans said, adding that he makes less than they do and he doesn’t know how he would recoup his money if he was let go. “Where am I going to go, if I make four million dollars a year and I get fired for not winning games. Where am I going to go? Where am I going to recoup that money? Nowhere. Nowhere.”
Evan said that this was an unfortunate bump in the road for college basketball, and the USA Today reported that Evans was, “not trying to point fingers at any particular program or coach.”
“They might be in my poll next week,” Evans said. “Sometimes we jump to conclusions and I don’t necessarily think I jumped to conclusions. But, as you sit back and think a little bit more, you might change your mind and I might change my mind. I can do that if I want to. I can change my mind.”