A Georgia Tech booster told CBS Sports he provided impermissible benefits to two Yellowjacket basketball players—and also provided gift cards for groceries and bought plane tickets for current Ole Miss player Markel Crawford while Crawford was still playing for Memphis.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Ole Miss is “gathering facts on the matter,” but head basketball coach Andy Kennedy said it’s “business as usual” in the meantime.
The lengthy article by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish details claims made by Ron Bell that suggest Georgia Tech may be covering up some violations of NCAA rules after self-reporting others. Bell said he was the previously unnamed person who provided benefits to Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson, which Georgia Tech self-reported last week to the NCAA.
Bell told CBS Sports he’d provided additional benefits to Okogie and Jackson that Georgia Tech had not reported. He also said he’d provided impermissible benefits to Crawford before the latter transferred to Ole Miss.
“Asked if he ever provided impermissible benefits to a Memphis player, Bell said he sent ‘about $300’ in gift cards to Markel Crawford ‘for groceries,’” Parrish writes. “Bell provided a document to CBS Sports that shows he also sent a pair of Nikes to Crawford last February, during Tubby Smith’s first season at Memphis, that cost $117.99. ‘Markel has had a rough life,’ Bell said.
Bell, who lives in Arizona, also said he had tried to recruit Crawford to Georgia Tech once Crawford announced he was leaving Memphis. “Bell provided a document to CBS Sports that shows he bought two plane tickets—one for Crawford and one for Crawford’s brother—to travel from Memphis to Tucson on April 27,” the article states. “The tickets were $419.10 each. But Crawford committed to Ole Miss on April 20. So Bell said he canceled the tickets, and Crawford never actually made the trip.”
Bell’s allegations apparently stem from his estranged relationship with Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner. The two men were close friends for decades, but haven’t spoken to each other since Oct. 2, according to Bell. After Bell “threatened to expose Pastner during a phone conversation that day,” Bell claims, Pastner self-reported the violations.
Kennedy told the Clarion-Ledger the CBS Sports report hasn’t changed anything for the Rebels, who open the season Friday night at home against Louisiana.
“I found out about it probably the same time you guys did today,” Kennedy told the Clarion-Ledger’s Antonio Morales. “So we immediately go through protocol, which is to turn it over to our compliance and let them do what they do. I’ve been told it’s business as usual. He’ll be at practice today and (will) practice. I’m not going to change anything unless I’m told otherwise.”
Rick Hynum is HottyToddy.com’s editor-in-chief. Email him at email@example.com.