WKU receives notice of allegations against Morton

Brad Stephens

The ripples of a sports scandal in the national headlines are affecting WKU.

President Gary Ransdell received an NCAA letter of allegations Wednesday concerning possible violations committed by men’s basketball Director of Basketball Operations Jake Morton during his time as an assistant at Miami.

The allegations surfaced in August 2011 when Yahoo! Sports published a story detailing benefits received by Miami players and recruits in the football and men’s basketball programs from 2002 through 2010.

The benefits in question were provided by former booster Nevin Shapiro, who is currently serving federal prison time for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

The notice of allegations, obtained by the Miami Herald, states that between October 2007 and October 2008, Morton accepted at least $6,000 of supplemental income from Shapiro.

A basketball coach receiving additional income from a booster violates NCAA Bylaws 11.3.1 and 11.3.2.

The allegations also detail three recruiting violations committed by Morton:

— On Oct. 4, 2008, Morton and fellow assistant Jorge Fernandez arranged for Shapiro to have in-person, off-campus recruiting contact in Shapiro’s suite at a Miami football game with the coach of a recruit, Donovan Kirk. Kirk was on campus at the time taking a visit.

— On Oct. 26, 2008, Morton and Fernandez arranged for Shapiro to have in-person, off-campus recruiting contact with two coaches of a recruit, Durand Scott, at Shapiro’s home and at a local nightclub. Morton and Fernandez also provided impermissible inducements in the form of transportation and entertainment of the two coaches. Scott was taking a visit at the time.

— In April 2009, Morton arranged for Shapiro to have recruiting contact via telephone with a coach of highly-rated recruit John Wall. Morton also provided impermissible transportation to Wall’s coach during Wall’s official visit to Miami.

The NCAA letter to Ransdell stated there is no institutional responsibility on the part of WKU for possible violations involving Morton.

However, WKU representatives will be provided a chance to attend the NCAA appeals hearing when a date is determined.

“The NCAA has informed us of the notice of allegations involving Jake Morton with respect to its investigation of the University of Miami,” WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart said in a statement. “As we have consistently stated, none of the allegations against Jake involve Western Kentucky University in any manner. He and his legal representation are continuing to work with the NCAA.”

Morton was hired by WKU as an assistant under former coach Ken McDonald in June 2011, just two months before the Yahoo! story was published.

Morton was reassigned from assistant coach to director of basketball operations following last season.