A criminal turned cooperating witness for the FBI alleged Tuesday that he had paid college football players, including at least one who attended Notre Dame, in order to curry their favor for his financial adviser business.
This is according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, who is attending the trial of two individuals facing fraud and bribery charges in college basketball.
Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer, who pleaded guilty to wire and securities fraud, lying to the SEC and aggravated identity theft, testified that he paid players between 2000 and 2014. Those players, the former businessman said, played for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Northwestern Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels.
“Notre Dame is unaware of the misconduct Blazer alleged today,” Paul Browne, the school’s vice president for public affairs and communications, said to the Chicago Tribune. “We highly prize ethical conduct and will seek to determine if Blazer or anyone else sought to compromise any of our students in that regard.”
Blazer did not specify the recipients of his payments, although he offered enough hints to suggest Hakeem Nicks, a former North Carolina wide receiver, and Aaron Maybin, a former Penn State linebacker, were two players receiving what the NCAA would categorize as an impermissible benefit.
Blazer said he would wire between $100 and $3,000 per month to a friends and family of the players; other times, he supplied cash payments directly. The witness said he never paid a college football coach.
The trial was adjourned for the day, with prosecutors still questioning Blazer. It will resume tomorrow, Norlander reported.
Blazer is testifying in exchange for leniency in his sentencing; he faces a maximum sentence of 67 years, according to the New York Times’ Adam Zagoria.
So what does this mean?
Some have pointed out that Blazer’s payments were in self-interest, not on behalf of a specific school or coach.
In the NCAA’s eyes, however, that may not mean much.
The organization penalized the USC Trojans for “a lack of institutional control” after it was discovered Reggie Bush “received lavish gifts from two fledgling sports marketers hoping to sign him.” The university received a two-year bowl ban, four years’ probation, loss of scholarships and the forfeiture of an entire year’s worth of games.
Although the misdeeds occurred during the Pete Carroll era, it was Lane Kiffin’s teams who ultimately suffered.
Blazer’s payments covered the tenure of four different Notre Dame coaches: Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, Charlie Weis and Brian Kelly, the current head of the program.
The Irish had 65 players drafted between 2000 and 2014.
While Blazer is from Pittsburgh, it doesn’t seem as if he only targeted local products.
Nicks, for example, is a Charlotte native, while Maybin was born in Baltimore. Other former clients of his financial advisory film included Greg Little, who was from Durham and also went to UNC, and Anthony Allen, who was born in Tampa and played for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.