SAN DIEGO – Federal authorities charged two former University of San Diego basketball players and a former assistant coach on Monday with running a sports betting business that affected the outcome of games.
Brandon Dowdy, 22, graduated from Redlands East Valley High School after the 2005-06 season, leaving on scholarship to USD. He has been linked with nine other players, including Toreros’ all-time leading scorer Brandon Johnson, in a criminal probe that started with a marijuana distribution investigation last year, according to the FBI.
The indictments, which were handed down last Friday and unsealed on Monday, name Johnson, Dowdy and Thaddeus Brown, 32, a USD assistant coach in 2006-07.
Allegations are that Johnson, 24, took a bribe to influence a USD game in February 2010, then solicited someone else this past January to affect the outcome of more than one USD game.
Dowdy, who transferred out of USD and wound up at the University of California, Riverside, was accused with Brown of approaching a UC Riverside player to fix a game in February.
“They used money that they raised to persist and transport marijuana. They used monies to pay for the betting services they were using. They used money to make bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a release.
She did not name USD’s opponent in the Feb. 2010 game, one that Johnson started at point guard for the Toreros.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slater said the investigation still has mysteries to unravel.
“How many games are we talking about? Who? What opponents? Those are the questions we are still seeking complete answers to,” he said.
Julie Roe Lach, the vice president in charge of enforcement for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said her organization would await the outcome of a criminal investigation before deciding what actions to take.
“When the FBI’s involved, we let the FBI do their job,” she said. “We wait and see what they uncover.”
Lach said the biggest challenge of a money-related scandal such as this one is the “money that’s involved.
“This type of thing goes to the core of the integrity of the game,” she explained. “The risks are very real. Point-shaving specifically, especially in the high profile sports such as football and men’s and women’s basketball, brings about risks.
“If there’s a (betting) line (Las) Vegas, student-athletes run the risk of being vulnerable.”
Johnson, said Duffy, “was intricately involved in both the illegal gambling business and in the sports bribery.”
The investigation evolved from a probe of a marijuana distribution operation, according to Slotter. Ten people are charged with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conduct an illegal gambling business and distribute marijuana. If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
USD, a small private Catholic school with a campus that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, has cooperated with authorities, said Duffy.
As of Monday, nine of the 10, including Dowdy and Brown, had been arrested and one was at large. Johnson was arrested in Houston while playing for a minor league professional basketball team.
“The drug trafficking and sports betting charged in this case … were organized and substantial and reflect diversifications of criminality that we will not tolerate,” Duffy said. “Whether in the area of politics, law or sports, the phrase ‘the fix is in’ sends chills down the spines of all Americans.”
According to Lach, point shaving incidents are not common at the campus.