Recruiting Repercussions: A Conversation with Super Sports Lawyer Don Jackson

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:
for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19

Basketball Recruiting… These words have been thrust to the forefront of America’s ongoing sports dialogue… Basketball Coaches are the new “thugs”… Overnight, AAU and college coaches have become morally equivalent to the Jamaican Shower Posse… It is impossible to envision a return to things as they were… We are truly in a new era…


Recently indicted Business Manager, Christian Dawkins

We all knew recruiting was a rough and tumble, bare-knuckle brawling business. The stakes are so astronomically high, that damn near anything goes. We’ve seen Rick Pitino get away with providing strippers and prostitutes for recruits and their ohhhh so willing Dads, Uncles and Ol’ Heads… About a week ago, this statement would have been met with some meek challenges from some quarters… No longer… It’s out there for all to see…

Anything goes…

Want the kid? Will he make a difference for you? Will he get you to the NCAA tournament?


Indicted Adidas Executive, Jim Gatto

Pay him… $150,000… $100,000… That’s about the going rate… As a result of a high profile federal fraud and bribery scandal shaking the foundations of college basketball, all possible doubt has been removed.

Let’s be clear…

Shoe companies, agents and financial advisors PAY college coaches, AAU programs and family members for the services of elite scholastic basketball players. They have the tapes…

But, most keen observers of collegiate athletics already knew that was the case. It’s inevitable and it will continue… High profile basketball and football players have a tremendous monetary value to the top college programs. A 5 year extension for some of the top coaches could be worth anywhere from $25-$40 million. Shoe companies are paying the top college programs $12-19 million per year to wear their shoes and uniforms. Assistant football coaches in the BIG BOY programs make upwards of $1.5 million annually and top basketball assistants pull down $500,000 – $750,000.


So, one has to ask… What are the BEST players worth in that context?

See… the way capitalism is set up… Money finds it’s way to things of value.

The top defensive ends, left tackles and quarterbacks impact the outcome of games, hence they are extremely valuable. So are the top 50 or so basketball players in the nation. The people and organizations controlling their destination and selling their performances are literally shitting money!

While the NCAA reaps over $1 billion every year from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament alone, the players (the actual performers in this show) are supposed to receive room, board, books tuition and fees. That’s it…

The prevailing NCAA rule is as follows: NCAA guidelines for improper benefits violations of at least $700 recommend an athlete sit out at least 30 percent of the season and repay the value to charity as conditions for reinstatement.

Well… as anyone that has read the recent headlines and stories can tell you, we are waaaay past that threshold.

What’s the penalty for improper benefits of $150,000?


Donald Jackson, Attorney – The Sports Group

Don Jackson is a prominent Alabama-based sports attorney. Jackson represented Todd O’Brien when St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli refused to release him to play for the University of Alabama-Birmingham after he graduated from St. Joseph’s University. More recently, he represented Archbishop Carroll native, Derrick Jones in his battle with the NCAA while playing at UNLV. Jackson, has handled many NCAA eligibility cases for athletes including former Mississippi State forwards Mario Austin and Renardo Sidney. He also represented former Southern Mississippi and Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall in his appeal process to attempt to remove or lessen the 10 year show-cause penalty given to him in 2016 after violations were found during his time as head coach at Southern Miss. He currently teaches Sports Law courses at the Cumberland School of Law, Samford University.

One of the most respected attorneys handling cases involving the NCAA, Jackson recently noted that this recent scandal is

“going to break new ground… “Those rules are out of the window of this case, because no one ever envisioned a $100,000 benefit.”

In the past, collegiate student-athletes improperly receiving $100-$200 have been held out of games and the suspensions were much harsher as the value of the benefits increased.

So what’s likely to happen to the young players involved in the current collegiate recruiting scandals?

“If the student-athlete received money, knew it was a violation and accepted it anyway, it’s more likely that he could be sanctioned in a potentially harsh way,” Jackson said. “And if he lies about it, then he’s going to be charged with … an unethical-conduct charge, which could render him permanently ineligible.”

The Black Cager also asked Jackson for his opinion on an ongoing eligibility controversy involving several Overbrook High School student. Three young Black players have transferred into Overbrook, one from Boys Latin HS and two from West Philadelphia HS. The sending schools have, thus far, refused to “sign off” on the transfers… As a result, the three Black young men are currently ineligible to compete in varsity basketball.

The young man from Boys Latin has a 3.9 GPA and strong standardized test scores. The two from West Philadelphia High School are both scholarship level basketball players. Both have Division 2 offers and legitimate Division 1 interest. The West Philadelphia transfers are also fatherless. Both lost their Dads to senseless gun violence.

Who speaks for these young men and others like them?

The Black Cager asked Jackson for his opinion on the Overbrook eligibility cases. He responded as follows:

“Sports, when taught appropriately, can be formative, reformative and transformative. The game can shape, mold and change lives. When I see families and young people attempt to use the game to elevate their lives and provide opportunities (only) to face opposition from individuals that are only focused on selfish, short sighted motivations, it angers me… Overbrook is a widely renowned secondary school with an incredible history. Efforts to impede these youngsters’ ability to better their live are unethical and, frankly, immoral. Young African-American men face considerable obstacles everyday. It is troubling to see officials in secondary schools place additional obstacles in their paths to education and accomplishment. It is pathetic.”

The college basketball scandal will continue to unfold and national media outlets will cover it incessantly.

The story of the smart kid and the fatherless boys will be covered by the The Black Cager. Regional and national interest in this case is growing. They say, Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love…

Will the adults deciding the fate of the young brothers placed in their care live up to the moniker?

I hope so and I WILL keep you posted… Until then, drop ’em a quick email and let ’em know how you feel…

Boys Latin HS
Joe Dunn, Athletic Director

RJ McDaniel, Principal

West Philadelphia HS
Mary Dean, Principal

Barry Strube, Athletic Director

Overbrook HS
Robert Miller, Athletic Director

Yvette Jackson, Principal


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