Former NBA referee Rashan Michel accepts plea deal in third college hoops corruption case

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Rashan Michel, a former NBA referee and lone remaining defendant in the third federal college basketball corruption case, accepted a plea deal from prosecutors on Tuesday.

Michel was initially charged with six felony counts related to soliciting bribes, wire fraud and travel act conspiracy as he pled guilty of bribery conspiracy. Federal prosecutors had accused Michel of accepting bribes from Sept. 2016 through Sept. 2017.

In March, former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, Michel’s co-defendant in the case, agreed to plead guilty for taking bribes to influence Tigers players to sign with certain financial advisors when they went pro. Person is currently scheduled for sentencing on July 9 as he faces up to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.

Michel was a suit maker for professional athletes after being an NBA referee from 1997-2001. He helped allegedly broker a relationship between Person and cooperating government witness Marty Blazer.

A $50,000 loan was made to Person from Blazer as the Auburn assistant agreed to steer players towards Blazer once they went pro. According to prosecutors, Person arranged for Blazer to meet with Auburn players and their parents at Person’s home during Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017.

Michel’s trial was scheduled to begin in New York on June 17 as his plea agreement ends the upcoming third college basketball corruption trial.

The first trial led to convictions from runner Christian Dawkins, Adidas consultant Merl Code and Adidas executive James Gatto in October as they were hit with conspiracy and fraud charges. In that trial, the focus was a pay-to-play scheme to help send elite recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs.

Jurors are currently still deliberating in the second trial — which also involves Dawkins and Code — as the two men are accused of bribing college basketball assistants to steer their players towards Dawkins’ new sports management company.

Without the third trial, and with the jury likely wrapping things up in the second trial this week, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the federal college basketball corruption cases. The black cloud that has been cast over the sport the past two seasons might finally start to subside.

But the NCAA will probably begin its investigations of the schools who have been mentioned in the trial shortly. It’s hard to say where things will go with the upcoming NCAA investigations, but the federal trial element of these corruption cases appears to be over for now.