FBI: San Diego point-shaving scandal netted ‘more than $120,000’


Back in March, former San Diego Torero Brandon Johnson, the school’s all-time leader in points and assists, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his role in a point-shaving scheme during the 2009-2010 season back in March.

Johnson was lucky; the state wanted to give him a year. He’ll begin serving his sentence on May 31st.

This isn’t a new story. The scandal broke back in the spring of 2011, and Johnson’s name has been in and out of the headlines since then. But over the weekend, the FBI released a story about the investigation that offered up a couple of new details into the crime.

The most interesting nugget in the FBI’s report is that the investigation initially had nothing to do with San Diego basketball or point-shaving. Instead, investigators were looking into a group that was selling weed and running an illegal online casino. It wasn’t until they started doing some digging that they stumbled upon Johnson’s association with the group and their game-fixing.

It was a profitable venture for both sides:

During the 2009-2010 season, [former USD assistant coach Thaddeus Brown] recruited Johnson — USD’s starting point guard — to influence the outcome of basketball games in exchange for money. Brown was paid handsomely for his role in the conspiracy—up to $10,000 per game.

During that season, it’s believed that at least four games were “fixed” with Johnson’s assistance. Perhaps the senior point guard would miss a free throw now and then or draw a technical foul. Or he would just pass up a shot—at one point Johnson was heard on electronic surveillance talking about how he wouldn’t shoot at the end of a particular game because it would have cost him $1,000.

The co-conspirators routinely got together to discuss the predictions of oddsmakers and to pick which games to fix. They would then make their bets—often on the other team (USD was usually favored to win)—which would enhance their winnings even more. And with Johnson manipulating the games, they usually won their bets, netting them more than $120,000.

The amount of money that Johnson got paid is one of the reasons that I believe this was not an isolated incident.

For any college kid, $1,000 is a lot of money, let alone someone that doesn’t come from a financially stable back ground. Now imagine that a college basketball player on a low-major team — a program that doesn’t get much media attention — from a poor family is offered that much money to shave a couple of points. He’s not throwing the game, he’s just making a bad pass or missing a shot intentionally here and there to ensure that his team doesn’t cover the spread.

That money can stock your fridge and let you buy a round of shots at a campus bar while also helping to make sure your parents aren’t late on a car payment or rent — and it doesn’t cost your team a win.

Not the easiest thing to say no to, is it?

And with the number of Division I basketball teams creeping ever so close to 350, and with each of those teams playing more than 30 games a season, there are more than 10,000 college basketball games a year.

How many do you think are fixed?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.