North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday that, when news arrived that four assistant coaches had been arrested as a result of an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting, he was “stunned.”
Myron Piggie, an AAU coach who was arrested in 2000 under similar circumstances, told Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports that Williams is either lying, or he has “amnesia.”
Williams told Goodman that Nike has “never helped me get any player, never insinuated, never done anything.”
“We never even discuss things like that,” Williams said. “So I know it’s foreign to me.”
In 2000, Piggie pleaded guilty to federal prosecutors after running a powerhouse AAU team in Kansas City comprised of some of the best players in the Midwest. Nike, a Kansas booster and multiple sports agents funded the operation. The feds said Piggie funneled $35,500 to his players, which included top recruits JaRon and Kareem Rush, among others.
Williams coached at Kansas at the time, and while the Jayhawks were never cited for any wrongdoing by the NCAA, Piggie said that Williams recruited several of his players, including JaRon Rush, who at one point was verbally committed to attend Kansas. JaRon Rush’s son, Shea, now plays under Williams at North Carolina.
“I mean, come on,” Piggie told Thamel and Wetzel. “You know Roy knew. He was in the mix. He knew what was going on.”
North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner offered the explanation that the shock Williams referred to resulted more from the nature of the story — the FBI involvement and use of wiretaps and undercover agents — than its findings.
“Unless you had knowledge of the FBI investigation, I’d say last Tuesday shocked everyone,” Kirschner said.
Williams did seem to allude to that aspect of the investigation in his interview with Goodman.
“This is a whole different level we’re talking about here,” Williams told ESPN. “This is a different level that should have some people being scared to death.”
Still, Piggie remains unconvinced of Williams’ naïveté. He told Thamel and Wetzel that it’s unlikely any competitive program has been completely clean in the recruiting process.
“You aren’t getting great players unless you’re paying,” Piggie said. “Someone is going to drop some money somewhere. That’s the name of the game.”
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