Just over a week ago three more figures involved in the fixing of San Diego basketball games a couple years ago plead guilty to charges of bribing then-San Diego point guard Brandon Johnson.
According to Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune what was going on at USD led to added FBI scrutiny of San Diego State games the following season (2010-11), one in which the Aztecs went 34-3 and reached the Sweet 16.
According to Zeigler multiple San Diego State players were interviewed in the aftermath of the arrests made in the USD case but none were indicted on any charges.
And according to two defense attorneys who have worked the ongoing case, no San Diego State games were altered in any way so Aztecs fans have nothing to be worried about.
But two defense attorneys who worked the case in its early months said no SDSU games were ever illicitly altered — either because the players were never actually solicited or because they were and refused.
“I had the opportunity to review all the discovery in the case,” said Michael Berg, who represented Steve Goria, the leader of the conspiracy, before Goria switched attorneys. “There is absolutely nothing to tie any current or former player from SDSU to any point shaving or game fixing. To say otherwise is not only wrong, it’s slanderous.”
Fixing SDSU games was a “pipe dream,” said attorney Vikas Bajaj, who initially represented T.J. Brown, a former USD assistant coach. “Otherwise, there would have been arrests.”
Recorded phone conversations between Steve Goria and T.J. Brown included mentions of SDSU players that Brown, then an assistant at USD, knew and how they could go about getting them involved.
But that didn’t happen, and interestingly enough the two defendants were believed to think that the best time to attempt to fix a game would be following a loss.
Of course the Aztecs didn’t lose a game in that season until January 26, 2011 at BYU.
The affidavits are unclear whether Brown approached Aztecs players about fixing a game or was merely calling them because he knew them as part of the city’s college basketball community. Brown worked as an assistant manager at the Gaslamp Quarter club, and several SDSU player were involved in a fight there in November 2010.
“Brown’s contacts with SDSU players could be related to sports bribery,” one affidavit said, “however the contacts could very well also be innocent in nature.”
With four of the ten defendants yet to plead guilty it remains to be seen if any more details come out in the near future.