Bowen’s father: Ex-UM receiver Tai Streets gave cash
New York — At a criminal trial about corruption in college basketball, the father of blue-chip recruit and Saginaw native Brian Bowen claimed that former Michigan and NFL wide receiver Tai Streets gave him a $5,000 payment.
Brian Bowen Sr. testified in federal court Tuesday that Streets, the founder of prominent AAU basketball club Meanstreets, paid the money while his son was a member of Streets' Nike EYBL team, per multiple reports. According to CBS Sports' Matt Norlander, Bowen Sr. alleged he was only given cash for his son to play for Meanstreets and that Streets wasn't trying to steer him to attend Michigan.
Streets played at Michigan from 1995-98 before a six-year NFL career that included the 2004 season with the Detroit Lions. He also was a member of Michigan's basketball team for one season in 1996-97.
When asked about the allegations Streets might have committed NCAA violations and if Michigan had any knowledge of the situation, the athletic department released the following statement:
"Following testimony in a federal court today, a claim was made that a former UM student-athlete offered money to a basketball player in exchange for participation on a youth team. Integrity in the college basketball environment is an important issue and we will continue to monitor this situation.”
The issue appears to be whether Streets is considered a booster to the athletic department and if he was recruiting Bowen to play for the Wolverines — which would be an NCAA violation — but Bowen Sr. indicated that wasn't the case during his testimony. He testified he accepted the $5,000 from Streets for his son to play with Meanstreets.
The NCAA's definition of a booster is broadly defined as a representative of "the institution’s athletic interests." That includes anyone who has provided a donation in order to obtain season tickets for any sport at the university, participated in or has been a member of an organization promoting the university’s athletics programs, made financial contributions to the athletic department or to a university booster organization, arranged for or provided employment for enrolled student-athletes, assisted or has been requested by university staff to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes, assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student athletes or their families, or has been involved otherwise in promoting university athletics.
According to the NCAA, only university staff members are permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes and boosters may not encourage a recruit's participation in university athletics or provide benefits to prospects that were not previously provided. If a booster violates those guidelines, it could jeopardize a student-athlete’s eligibility, jeopardize a university's membership status with the NCAA or cause a booster to lose access to all booster benefits.
Per 247Sports, Bowen made two unofficial visits to Michigan on Aug. 30, 2014 and Feb. 22, 2015, and was offered a scholarship on June 20, 2016. However, Bowen never made an official visit to Ann Arbor and didn't include the Wolverines among his finalists when he announced his top six schools on Sept. 28, 2016.
Bowen Sr. also testified that an assistant coach at the University of Louisville gave him a secret payment of $1,300 as part of a deal to get the son to sign with the school.
Bowen Sr. described meeting assistant Kenny Johnson two separate times in 2017 to try to collect cash in violation of school and NCAA rules.
Bowen testified that the first time, he informed Johnson that defendant Christian Dawkins had promised that the coach would help him with paying rent, Johnson was “shocked” and “flabbergasted.” The next time, he said, Johnson handed over $1,300 — reluctantly.
“He made it clear that this was a one-time deal for him,” Bowen said in federal court in Manhattan. “He said Louisville didn’t pay basketball players.”
There was no immediate response Tuesday to a message seeking comment from a lawyer for Johnson, who was never accused of a crime.
The testimony about the recruitment of Bowen, came in a case that prompted Louisville to fire both Johnson and its legendary coach, Rick Pitino. Johnson is now an assistant at La Salle.
Dawkins, former amateur coach Merl Code and former Adidas executive James Gatto, have pleaded not guilty to charges they sought to use under-the-table payments of up to $100,000 from Adidas in exchange for commitments from top prospects to major programs seen as a path to the pros. Their lawyers haven’t disputed that payments were offered, but they argue that the schools never suffered any harm.
Bowen Sr. took the witness stand in federal court in Manhattan as part of an agreement with the government that will spare him from prosecution. On Tuesday, he testified that he tried to keep quiet about the “money scheme” that he knew broke the rules, even going as far as keeping his son in the dark about it.
“I didn’t want him to get involved in something that was wrong. … And I definitely didn’t want my son to lose his eligibility,” he said.
Once the scandal broke, Louisville withdrew Bowen’s scholarship before he ever played a game. He’s currently playing professionally in Australia.