Blog Entry

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Posted on: April 12, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: April 12, 2011 11:37 am

Posted by Matt Norlander

Thrown games in an effort to pay players and distribute drugs. That’s what the first week of college basketball’s offseason has given us.

The details of the San Diego basketball bribery case are so ridiculous and disconcerting I couldn’t fault you if it made you turn your back on the sport. You won’t do that, but if you did, I’d understand.

Three years removed from a first-round upset win over Connecticut in the NCAA tournament, and now look at San Diego. Mired in a scandal that will taint its name for a long, long time.

This level of cheating in college basketball is unnerving, but I don’t believe it’s common. I don’t believe there are multiple programs being affected and influenced and tainted by cheaters, guys who are handcuffed by people with money and effectively forcing them to throw games. The cynics can burst out of their closets any time something like this happens (and while it happens too much, it still doesn’t happen all that much, if you get me) and hiss and moan and berate intercollegiate athletics. They deserve that fleeting right.

Pay the players! You get what you deserve! College sports is rigged! The whole system is corrupt!

It’s really not, though. Think about it. You believe what happened with San Diego is a spreading virus in college basketball, even to smaller degree? Unlikely. This case involved 10 people. Ten! It took 10 idiots to try and pull this scheme off, still it was doomed from the start. The FBI’s investigation into San Diego basketball has been going on for a year, which is just a little bit shorter time than when the first Toreros game was thrown in February of 2010.

The deed was done and investigators got a sniff almost immediately.

The charges against Torero players Brandon Johnson (right), San Diego’s all-time leader in points and assists, and Brandon Dowd, as well as former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown, read like something out of a television show. “Conspiracy to commit sports bribery, operate an illegal sports bookmaking service and distribute marijuana,” the indictment reads.

But they were only a small part of an overarching drug scheme. The basketball players' involvement in this drives our reactions, but the investigation didn't even begin with intentions of bringing down a basketball program. It was about the drugs. The nicknames for the men involved in this -- Shazy, Bird, Slick Rick, Guyline, Weenie -- are all too good to be true. When you're dealing with code names, it goes way deeper than merely fixing West Coast Conference basketball games.

The selling of marijuana by Steven Warda Goria and Richard Francis Garma -- both of whom filed for bankruptcy in 2009 -- is the crux of this investigation. It's not about fixing games; that's just bolstering the case against these men. I mean, Goria needed a SWAT team outside of his house for two hours before he surrendered Monday morning. Desperation. That’s what this was. And that’s why everyone’s been caught.

You think this is commonplace? Not a chance. Not like this. Shaving points and fixing games is always seedy, but San Diego is something superior in outlier status.

What we don’t know: how much money was bet on affected games, and which games were thrown. The indictment states it did happen in February of last year. Ballin’ is a Habit has already tried to deduce which game was it. There could be more outcomes that were rigged, but we don't know for a fact that's the case ... yet.

From the NCAA’s official response:

“As this news demonstrates, the threat is real and no campus is immune. From our own research, we know that 1.6 percent of Division I men's basketball student-athletes have reported being asked to affect the outcome of the game. While this number may be considered low by some, any incident is too many.”

It's despicable, and it smears college basketball, but it's highly unlikely this is widespread. Get angry, get cynical, but don't think this is something that's peppered throughout the sport. Thank goodness, in a way, this happened at San Diego and not a major-conference school. Imagine the real uproar that would've been birthed from that. Then again, it's not likely such transgressions have a chance of happening at those kinds of schools. The players with the best chances at changing outcomes of BCS-conference games stand to eventually make much more money playing professionally, so what's the point in risking everything?

On record, we've now had seven point-shaving scandals in 60 years: City College of New York (1951); Boston College (1979); Tulane (1985); Arizona State (1994); Northwestern (1995); Toledo (2008); and now San Diego.

The San Diego case, which has close linear proximity to what Toledo got caught for in 2008 in concerning, but more cases that get busted, the less likely this is to occur. And if you think San Diego's problems were big, look at what CCNY was tied up in 60 years ago.

One thrown game is one way too many. But I have to believe the majority of the sport is on the up and up. There's too much to lose and not enough money to be made, even if players are starving for cash, the dangers and prison time stand to be too drastic. Vegas eyes its lines and team behavior like a mother bee at her hive. Be encouraged by the fact this was snuffed out. Be encouraged that the FBI and Las Vegas put millions of dollars of labor every year into keeping tabs on college sports, aiming to keep it clean.

The NCAA can't be expected to police itself in this matter. It can only hand out the punishments after the leg work's been done, in most cases. While this makes men’s college basketball look horrible, throwing games isn't as rampant as one might think because it's getting snuffed out at places like Toledo and San Diego.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: September 5, 2012 5:28 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Why couldn't they throw the season opener versus Stanford in 2009-2010?  Frown

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: April 15, 2011 4:20 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Yo man, Lebron didn't throw that series, the Cavs just never were the best team.  NEVER.  And now they're the worst. 

Since: Jan 5, 2011
Posted on: April 14, 2011 2:56 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

They need money to pay for their tatoos!!

I'm just automatically assuming that this is a strike at ohio state.

Since: Nov 29, 2007
Posted on: April 14, 2011 8:15 am

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

They need money to pay for their tatoos!!

Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:41 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Syracuse at home versus Seton Hall,Cuse were 15 or 16 point favs in that game and didn't even play,that game smelled bad Hall winning by22 I think you proved SU is innocent by the very numbers you posted. Point shaving is just that, shaving points. When a team just stinks it up it is never point shaving. Point shaving is not noticable in the game results, it is discovered when there is a heavy concentration of betting coupled with rumors of a student having too much money!

Since: Aug 17, 2007
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:32 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

I know it's not right but some say " If you're not cheating, you're not trying."  People do it in the everyday world, why are we so surprised when it happens in sports?

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:19 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

From watching Syracuse play all year, here is a suspect:


Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:53 pm

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Dear Matt
; I hope someone pulls your head out before you suffocate.  You do not think that it is wide spread?  It happens about everyday in basketball because it is the easiest game to fix.  Examples  A certain NBA player hurt his elbow, and the team was elminated from playoffs.  Why does the NBA have a lottery for the first draft pick?  Why is the lottery done in the back?   Because the teams have got caught cheating!  Only one NBA ref cheated? How can you cheat by yourself?  Look at ALL basketball games, team gets behind by 20 points and comes back to win or makes it real close and this happens EVERYNIGHT and it is not cheating.  Officials will call a game close until the end and then things that have been OK all night are now fouls.  You call them "bad calls".  I learned a long time ago not to bet on baskeball games.

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 9:26 am

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

I very very rarely rip on the author of an article, prefering to focus on individual points, but this article is terrible.
No logic, no evidence, seemingly no understanding of history while proclaming an uninformed opinion so confidently and biasedly.
This article should never had made it past the approval process.
I would list all the ways this article is wrong but I simply don't have time to list 50 pages of facts regarding mob history and parellels to every sector of crime and how the "smaller" guy gets caught way more often.
This guy I know is being audited.  He must have been the only one to fudge his taxes a bit, surely no rich person or large corporation did the same! I can rest easier now and stick the uncle sam pacifier in my mouth knowning the ones in charge have tax evasion under control and thwarted this isolated event.
If only he had enough money to bribe someone high up to look the other way or promise a lobbyist to create a ficticuous 6 figure job for his son or have hired a bunch of intermediaries with compartmentalized plausable denability.....

Since: Dec 17, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 8:59 am

Be encouraged by San Diego's bust in bribery case

Insignificant school?  They play in the WCC which has an automatic qualifying bid to the tournament.  And the year they beat UConn they were one win away from the Sweet 16 so I don't see how that minimizes anything.

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