Aztecs questioned about USD scandal

by Edward Lewis

SDSU basketball players are not directly involved in the federal investigation, but they were questioned because of their potential relationship with the USD players, Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor
SDSU basketball players are not directly involved in the federal investigation, but they were questioned because of their potential relationship with the USD players, Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor

Several San Diego State men’s basketball players were interviewed by FBI agents earlier this month concerning the alleged University of San Diego point-shaving scandal, SDSU athletic department officials confirmed last week.

On April 11, three people associated with the USD men’s basketball program and seven other defendants were federally indicted on charges that included sports bribery, illegal sports bookmaking and marijuana distribution. That same day, SDSU officials said in a statement, federal agents questioned Aztec basketball players about the scandal.

“The SDSU student-athletes were interviewed due to having a social acquaintanceship with one or more of the defendants,” SDSU officials said in a statement. “San Diego State student-athletes fully cooperated with FBI agents.”

The Aztecs were “At no time during this process … the focus of the investigation or accused of any wrongdoing,” the statement said.

The three USD basketball members accused of conspiracy to fix games were former player Brandon Dowdy, former assistant coach Thaddeus “T.J.” Brown and former player and current USD all-time leading scorer Brandon Johnson. They, along with seven other defendants, allegedly were involved in a game-fixing scheme in which players would take money to influence the outcome of USD basketball games.

The SDSU players were questioned because of their relationship with the USD players, established through pick-up games and socializing during San Diego summers.

The statement said no additional interviews were planned for SDSU players, but “San Diego State athletic department officials have been in continuous communication with the FBI.”

If circumstances change, however, “the student-athletes are available to assist federal agents in any way possible,” the statement read.

The Aztecs are coming off their best season in school history, compiling a 34-3 record and a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament run. But having their name dragged through USD’s muddy scandal has thrown another wet blanket on an already soggy offseason in which star forward Kawhi Leonard left for the NBA and assistant coach Justin Hutson bolted for UNLV for a promotion and a pay raise.