Rosemont, Ill. — It was a bit of surprise when allegations surfaced regarding former Michigan athlete Tai Streets in the college hoops corruption trial.
And it most certainly was news to Michigan coach John Beilein, who had only recently heard about the situation before he took the podium Thursday at Big Ten media day.
“Somebody just mentioned that to me,” Beilein said. “I don’t know enough about it right now.
"I don't think you ever have to worry about us and that in any area."
In federal court on Tuesday, Brian Bowen Sr., the father of Saginaw native and prized recruit Brian Bowen, testified that Streets paid him $5,000 for his son to play on Streets’ AAU basketball team, Meanstreets.
Streets founded the successful AAU program after his playing days at Michigan, where he played football from 1995-98 and was a member of the basketball team in 1996-97 before going on to a six-year career in the NFL, including a stint with the Detroit Lions in 2004.
Bowen took two unofficial visits to Michigan before he was offered on June 20, 2016. However, Bowen never made an official visit, Michigan never was considered a front-runner at any point during the recruiting process and he didn’t include the Wolverines among his six finalists.
While Bowen Sr. indicated Streets wasn’t trying to push his son toward attending Michigan, it still could be an issue — and one that doesn't seem to make much sense.
Streets is considered a booster or representative according to the NCAA’s broad definition of the term because it 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.
There have been no reports or any evidence that suggests Streets has ever tried to steer a player to Michigan and secure their commitment. But if anything happens to come up, that's where a possible NCAA violation could come into play.
Michigan’s Charles Matthews and Isaiah Livers both played for Streets’ Nike EYBL team at one point, with Matthews playing for Meanstreets in 2014 and Livers in 2016, which is the same time Bowen was on the squad.
Matthews said he never was offered nor did accept anything from Streets when he was on the team, and at no point did Streets ever try to influence his college decision.
"He didn't have any part on my recruitment," said Matthews, who attended Kentucky before transferring to Michigan after his freshman season. "Tai is a great guy. He's a caring guy, loving guy. But no, he didn't do nothing like that."
Like Matthews, Beilein said Streets had no pull on Livers' choice to play for the Wolverines.
"When Isaiah played for him, Tai Streets was not involved in Isaiah Livers' recruitment," Beilein said. "Isaiah Livers' recruitment was his coaches and his parents. Charles, of course, I didn't recruit at that time."
When asked of his relationship with Streets, Beilein said he knows of him and knows he has attended football games because programs are allowed to give AAU coaches complimentary tickets, before adding "that's probably the depth of my association with Tai."
Regardless, Beilein expressed he isn't concerned about any possible violations.
"I know who we are and I have no issues worrying about any of those things at Michigan ever being involved with that," he said. "That's one thing — I can't give you a lot of certainties today, but I'll give you that certainty."
When asked about the freshmen to watch in the Big Ten this season, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann mentioned Indiana’s Romeo Langford followed by “the young man from Michigan.”
Holtmann later confirmed he was talking about Ignas Brazdeikis, the top recruit in Michigan's five-man class that includes Brandon Johns, David DeJulius, Colin Castleton and Adrien Nunez.
“I think (Brazdeikis) has a chance to have a real impact,” Holtmann said. “I didn't see him a whole lot, but I think he's got a chance to have a real impact from Day 1, from what I understand."
Brazdeikis was Michigan's leading scorer during the team's three-game exhibition tour in Spain in August, and will play a key role right away this season given the departures of Moritz Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and Jaaron Simmons.
"It sounds like he fits really well in John's system," Holtmann said. "They need him given who they lost. I think they need him, and he's really talented and versatile. I just think he's the kind of guy that is going to have a very good career in John's system."
Beilein said he feels good as he continues to work his way back to full health following double bypass heart surgery in August.
He noted there are still some things he can't do physically yet, like throw chest passes in practice, but said it should help when he starts strength training in two weeks.
"Rehab is going great," Beilein said. "I'm way ahead of schedule. That's what they (doctors) told me the other day."
... Big Ten media day was also a family affair for Matthews, a Chicago native. He was accompanied by his mother, Nichole, for the majority of the event.
... The Michigan basketball team will hold its "Selfie Night" on Monday, Oct. 29, at Crisler Center. The annual meet-and-greet event will start at 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.