Morton, NCAA have no timetable for meeting

WKU assistant basketball coach Jake Morton was named Tuesday in a Yahoo! Sports report regarding impermissable benefits at Miami (Fla.) from 2002-2009. Morton coached there from 2008-2011.

Cole Claybourn

With a little over a month until WKU’s basketball season is set to tip off, the NCAA has yet to meet with WKU assistant coach Jake Morton in regards to his alleged involvement in helping facilitate improper benefits to athletes during his time at Miami (Fla.).

Athletics Director Ross Bjork said last week that there’s still no timetable for when that meeting will take place.

“We haven’t scheduled an interview. They haven’t called us on when that might happen,” Bjork said. “So we don’t know. We’ve been in contact with the NCAA, but we haven’t scheduled anything.

“I’ve reached out to the NCAA two or three times to just find out what’s happening and request that they move (the meeting) up. But I haven’t been told anything else beyond that.”

Morton, who was an assistant coach at Miami from 2007-2011 and was hired by WKU in June, was accused in a Yahoo! report on August 16 of helping Miami athletics booster Nevin Shapiro set up a transaction for $10,000 to help secure the commitment of basketball recruit DeQuan Jones.

Shapiro said in the Yahoo! report that Morton set up the transaction in 2007 and became a middle-man for funds.

Photos of Morton with Shapiro and other Miami assistant coaches in Shapiro’s VIP suite at a Miami night club, where Miami football recruits were present, were featured in the Yahoo! report.

The NCAA contacted WKU a day after the report was published and said they wanted to meet with Morton regarding the allegations.

Bjork said in a statement to the Herald last month that WKU plans to cooperate fully with the NCAA during the investigation, and will help facilitate interviews as much as possible.

He said officials from WKU and the NCAA talked “a couple times” the week the Yahoo! report came out. 

Bjork released an initial statement immediately after the report was published that said he and Head Coach Ken McDonald did their research on Morton before and during the interview process and that Morton passed all background checks before he was hired.

“We are aware of the allegation related to Jake Morton, and he denies any wrong doing,” Bjork said in the statement. “Jake came to us highly recommended, Ken McDonald and I both did our homework during the interview process, and Jake passed our background checks before we hired him.”

The period during which the alleged violations occurred was from 2002-2010. Bjork was not implicated in the report, although he spent time as the Associate Athletic Director at Miami from 2003-2005.

The Bowling Green Daily News reported last month that the NCAA didn’t ask to speak with Bjork regarding the violations.

President Gary Randsell told the Herald last month that WKU and the basketball program will face no ramifications, regardless of what the NCAA decides in regards to Morton.

“There would be no implications for us,” Ransdell said. “We’ll let that run its course. Until we have any reason to feel differently, we’ll be supportive of our employee. But we’ll certainly cooperate with the NCAA and the investigation.”

Earlier this month Jones’ mother, his AAU coach and high school coach spoke on behalf of Jones to the Miami Herald and maintained his innocence.

“It is so, so frustrating because our family has been smeared and we are innocent,” Irene Bell said. “There is no way I would ever exploit my only child. Never, never, never was any money offered. If that had happened, I’d have been turned off by a coach willing to bend rules.”

The Herald’s attempts to reach Jones directly have been unsuccessful.