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OU basketball: In the midst of college basketball’s darkest days, Lon Kruger and Oklahoma remain in the light

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger watches from the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 88-80. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
OU basketball: In the midst of college basketball’s darkest days, Lon Kruger and Oklahoma remain in the light

Bribes were made.

Money was wired.

Phones were tapped.

Charges were filed.

There are plenty of shows and fantasies that fit the description, but this is real. Many have questioned the idea of amateurism in collegiate athletics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation found those answers.

Since movement in the case started in September, it was only a matter of time when someone was going to be able to get a hold of information included in the FBI investigation. Four former college basketball assistants were arrested at the time, but those with knowledge of the situation warned that this investigation was much deeper than just that.

At 4:51 a.m. yesterday, a deeper look into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting was released. Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports received documents and bank records of ASM Sports that entailed a dark, grim look into how college basketball has been run on a large-scale.

“The documents tie some of the biggest names and programs in the sport to activity that appears to violate the NCAA’s amateurism rules. This could end up casting a pall over the NCAA tournament because of eligibility issues,” Forde wrote. “There’s potential impermissible benefits and preferential treatment for players and families of players at Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, Alabama and a host of other schools. The documents link some of the sport’s biggest current stars – Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Duke’s Wendell Carter – to specific potential extra benefits for either the athletes or their family members.”

The days of college basketball are only getting darker, too. Per Mark Schlabach of ESPN late last night, Arizona head coach Sean Miller reportedly talked with Christian Dawkins, the focal point of the FBI investigation, and had a conversation about paying potential No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton $100,000 to ensure his signature to Arizona.

While the sports world is being introduced to the unfortunate side of what has become college basketball, life is still status quo for Lon Kruger and Oklahoma.

The future Hall of Fame head coach and his basketball program have been absent from any list of college basketball’s corruption case. As more sources into the FBI investigation come forward, the University of Oklahoma has been able to sit back and watch this story unfold just like everyone else is.

This is Kruger’s 32nd year as a head coach in college, and seventh at the helm of the Sooners. His time and investment into college basketball can be found on his resume, but Kruger understands what happens when one makes the choices some of his fellow coaches in college have made.

“Well, if the allegations are accurate, then you hate to see that of course for any individuals that are involved or how it impacts the game, especially at the collegiate level,” Kruger said. “Hopefully it doesn’t turn out to be the case, but if it is, obviously…people made bad choices and there’s consequences.”

It would be easy to enjoy the sunshine coming through the windows of Oklahoma’s basketball offices while others are living under a dim cloud. For Kruger, enjoying the benefit of comfort comes with knowing that people are going through one of the biggest sport scandals in history.

“It’s comfortable from a standpoint of us knowing that it’s not happening here,” he said. “But it’s not comfortable to see other people having to go through it–there is no satisfaction in that. But, hopefully, it all gets resolved.”

The Sooners have been sliding. They are losers of their last six games, and have lost nine of their last 11.

However…instead of having to figure out if Buddy Hield had a meal paid for at the Ritz Carlton, or if any current players were bribed to go to the University of Oklahoma by agents and shoe companies, Lon Kruger and co. get to focus on what is most important: basketball.

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