Duke basketball is an abomination to humanity. They are led by a villain named Coach K who manages to combine the sanctimony of a televangelist, whininess of a toddler, and raging anger of an abusive drunk into one foul cocktail. Much like the deranged bad guy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he whips his brainwashed acolytes, appropriately called “crazies,” into a frenzy before all Duke home games.
This mob of freaks squeal with delight as Duke players take invisible sniper fire and flop violently to the floor into epileptic seizures attempting to draw fraudulent foul calls. The entire disgusting spectacle is more heinous than anything found in Caligula’s Rome.
Nobody thought it could get any worse. But over the past several years, Coach K has managed to put a final cherry on top of the fecal sundae by fully embracing the recruitment of “one and done” players. These rent-a-players take classes at the local community college for one semester before bolting for the NBA. Coach K calls this pathetic charade “the brotherhood.” (A cult name if I’ve ever heard one.)
So how does a 70 year old man with the charisma of a rabid possum convince the best 17 year old basketball players in the country to play for him? That’s a great question that brings me to the actual topic of this post: circumstantial evidence.
In the courtroom, there are two types of evidence, direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence is something that a witness personally observes or experiences. For example, if a witness testified that he saw Coach K hand a bag of cash to a recruit, it would be direct evidence of cheating. Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, is indirect evidence from which reasonable inferences can be made.
I've represented many clients charged with crimes who are under the mistaken impression that they can't be convicted unless somebody actually sees them commit the crime. Face palm. The reality is that the majority of criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence. And there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that Coach K cheats to get his players.
There are college programs paying elite basketball players substantial sums of money. That is a fact beyond dispute. A recent FBI investigation resulting in federal indictments revealed that assistant coaches at Arizona offered Nassir Little, rated the number 9 recruit in the country, $150,000 to join their program. Assistant coaches at the University of Louisville offered Brian Bowen, the 19th rated recruit in the country, $100,000. If the market value for the 19th rated recruit is $100,000, a logical inference is that a top 3 recruit would demand far higher. Well, Duke has managed to obtain commitments from the numbers 1, 2, and 3 ranked players in the 2018 class. Is it possible that all three decided to turn down massive amounts of money to play for free for an undead 70 year old vampire in a decrepit high school gym? I suppose it's possible that Lebron James will turn down his next contract to become a high school gym teacher, but it sure doesn't seem likely.
Exhibit 2: The chief recruiting guru at Duke is Jeff Capel. Capel's previous employment was as the head coach of Oklahoma. He was fired in the midst of a scandal that involved, you guessed it, paying for players. In his brief time at Oklahoma, he managed to score commitments from three McDonald's All-Americans despite coaching a team with little history as a top program. Capel managed to weasel away free of NCAA punishment because his loyal bagmen wouldn’t rat him out.
Exhibit 3: Quin Synder played for Coach K at Duke and later became an assistant coach under him. Snyder learned everything about how to run a program from his mentor before leaving to become the head coach at the University of Missouri. Snyder had tremendous success on the recruiting trail and led Mizzou to a surprising elite 8 run. The house of cards came tumbling down starting in 2004 when it was revealed by former player Ricky Clemons that assistant coaches paid players. Because Snyder didn't have Coach K's clout, his school was put on probation and Snyder was soon pushed out as coach.
Exhibit 4: In 1999, Corey Maggette was perhaps the most talented player on a Duke team that was national runner-ups. It was later discovered that Maggette was receiving payments from a dirtbag AAU coach name Myron Piggie. Coach K and Duke naturally disavowed any knowledge of the payments and skated with no punishment.
Exhibit 5: Chris Duhon was a key member of Duke's national championship winning squad in 2001 and went on to lead them to the final 4 in 2004. It was later discovered that Duhon's family was moved to Durham and his mother given a high paying job for which she had no qualifications. Coach K pleaded ignorance and suffered no consequences.
Exhibit 6: Lance Thomas was the starting power forward on the 2010 Duke national championship team. In December 2009, Thomas used $30,000 in cash to purchase jewelry and purchased an additional $70,000 on credit. Both Thomas and the jeweler refused to speak to the NCAA. Coach K waved his wand and said "nothing to see here" and the situation was buried with no consequence to Duke.
Would this be enough evidence to convict Coach K in a court of law? Probably not. Like any mafia don, Coach K sends his minions to do his dirtiest deeds while he keeps a safe distance. But where there's smoke, there's usually fire, and this is what the Duke program looks like.