Ransdell: WKU won’t face ramifications for Morton’s alleged actions

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

President Gary Ransdell said the WKU basketball program won’t face ramifications in the fallout of assistant men’s basketball coach Jake Morton’s involvement in an ongoing investigation at Miami (Fla.).

“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.”

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 Tuesday 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, are featured in the Yahoo! report.

Athletics Director Ross Bjork on Wednesday issued a statement saying that the NCAA had contacted the President’s Office wishing to speak with Morton:

“Per protocol, the NCAA contacted the President’s office regarding their investigation of the University of Miami and their desire to speak with Jake Morton, who was a member of the Miami basketball staff during the timeframe of the alleged allegations,” Bjork said in the statement. “Jake will cooperate fully.”

Bjork released an initial statement Tuesday night after the Yahoo! report was published.

“We are aware of the allegation related to Jake Morton, and he denies any wrong doing,” Bjork said Tuesday. “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.

“These allegations occurred while Jake was a member of the University of Miami basketball coaching staff. We will cooperate completely and accordingly with the NCAA and the University of Miami during their investigations.”

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 that the NCAA didn’t ask to speak with Bjork regarding the violations.

Ransdell said WKU will facilitate interviews for the NCAA with Morton as best it can, but stands behind the hire that the men’s program made.

“That’s a university of Miami problem and to an extent it involves Jake Morton,” Ransdell said. “We checked and did all of our homework before Jake was hired. Jake denies that he had anything to do with what the guy in prison is saying took place.

“The NCAA will sort that out, but that’s a University of Miami problem that doesn’t involve us. Obviously Jake Morton is our employee, so we’re interested in his well-being. But beyond that we just don’t have anything to say about it.”