— Duke’s second-place finish in the 1999 NCAA tournament is in doubt after former player Corey Maggette admitted he took cash payments from a summer league coach while in high school.
Maggette signed a sworn statement reversing earlier denials and admitting he took $2,000 from Myron Piggie, his summer league coach for a Kansas City-based AAU team, Duke said Tuesday.
Piggie pleaded guilty in May to a conspiracy charge after being accused of defrauding Duke and three other colleges. He faces 3-5 years in prison for paying Maggette and four other high school players on his team $35,500 from 1996-98.
Duke: We Were Unaware
Duke officials have said they were not aware of the payments, but the admission jeopardizes the Blue Devils’ program. In addition to possibly forfeiting the runner-up finish for using an ineligible player in the 1999 NCAA tournament, Duke also might have to return up to $226,815 in tournament revenue.
An NCAA spokeswoman said officials planned to review Maggette’s statement today.
Precedent for situations in which an ineligible athlete played in a postseason game and the university was unaware of the violations calls for the school to return 45 percent of its game revenue and give up any title it won, spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said.
Duke requested the statement to resolve questions about Maggette’s eligibility after claims surfaced that he accepted the money from Piggie.
“Clearly, this is not what we wanted to hear, but we are pleased at least we have the facts now,” Duke spokesman Al Rossiter Jr. said.
NCAA to Investigate
The next step for the NCAA is to see if rules were violated, not if Duke tried to cover up the payments, he said.
“Clearly, we weren’t aware of it,” Rossiter said. “The issue is, was this in fact a violation of NCAA rules, and what do they do about it.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was told of the statement but had no comment. He has also denied knowledge of the payments.
Prosecutors Hope for Stronger Case
Maggette has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors to testify about the payments. He already testified before a grand jury about Piggie.
The statement Duke received Tuesday was also sent to the U.S. Attorney in Kansas City. Prosecutors were hoping testimony from Maggette that he took money would allow them to pursue a stronger sentence against Piggie. A hearing in the case scheduled for Tuesday in Kansas City was postponed until today.
The federal indictment against Piggie claimed he paid the players in exchange for agreements that they would pay him once they received pro contracts and signed endorsement deals. It also said he used the players to secure money from a booster and Nike.
The other players were JaRon Rush of UCLA; his brother, Kareem, of Missouri; Korleone Young, who entered the NBA draft without playing in college; and Andre Williams of Oklahoma State.
Partly in response to issues raised by the investigation, the NCAA recently moved to eliminate its 24-day summer recruiting season, when coaches like Piggie parade their players before college coaches. The NCAA has approved trimming the summer recruiting season to 14 days, and then cutting it altogether.
Maggette left Duke after his freshman year and was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the 1999 draft. He was traded to the Orlando Magic, where he played last season.
Maggette was dealt, again on draft day last month, to the Los Angeles Clippers.