Saginaw basketball coaching legend not surprised by NCAA scandal

 Legendary Saginaw High School basketball coach Marshall Thomas
Legendary Saginaw High School basketball coach Marshall Thomas (WJRT)
Published: Oct. 4, 2017 at 6:36 PM EDT
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(10/4/2017) - Saginaw basketball coaching legend Marshall Thomas wasn't surprised when news of the NCAA pay to play scandal broke last week.

In fact, he had suspicions about similar allegations of money changing hands illegally to direct prized recruits to certain colleges.

"They could almost tell the coaches, if you gave me a certain amount of money, I could persuade this person to go to your school," Thomas said.

The dust continues to settle on the shocking allegations that two Saginaw area natives were caught up in an FBI investigation into college basketball.

Thomas, who coached at Saginaw High School for 22 years, didn't see money changing hands, but he knows two of his players were the targets of would-be agents, who were trying to get the students to commit to certain schools.

He was shocked to hear two people he knows well were involved in the FBI investigation, where authorities allege high school players' families were receiving money from apparel companies and agents in exchange for going to certain colleges.

"My heart went out to the families," Thomas said.

Court documents show former Saginaw High School player Christian Dawkins is accused of wire fraud for helping arrange a payment of $100,000 to the family of a high school recruit, believed to be that of former Arthur Hill standout Brian Bowen. Bowen signed with Louisville in June, but is not allowed to practice with the team because of the allegations.

Thomas says he remembers two of his high school players being targets of a similar pay to play scheme.

"A so-called agent, they weren't the agent at the time, but they were influential of trying to become a representative of the player, where they would maybe go to a college coach and say that, for $10,000, I could persuade this person to come to your school," Thomas said. "That's how it was in my day."

Thomas didn't name the players and said he doesn't believe they ever received money. He believes Bowen is a victim in this most recent case.

"His talents are getting him to the point where he is the one being used," Thomas said. "I haven't heard any kind of reports that he has received anything."

Bowen's attorney is working to get him reinstated to the Louisville basketball team. He did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

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