The key witness in the FBI's college basketball corruption trial began his testimony in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday, focusing on multiple payments he made to players at major athletic programs.
Marty Blazer, a former financial adviser, said that he made payments to college football players from 2000 to 2014. His aim was to secure players as clients before they turned pro. Blazer said he made payments to players at Pittsburgh, Michigan, Notre Dame, Northwestern, North Carolina, Alabama and Penn State, according to an ESPN report.
Blazer said he would pay players anywhere from $100 to $3,000 per month via Western Union. He testified that he would send cash to a player's friend, family member or girlfriend, according to a CBS report.
Blazer didn't specify the players, but gave context clues to particular players, such as describing a $10,000 payment to the 11th pick in the NFL Draft, Penn State's Aaron Maybin, and another payment to the New York Giants' first-round pick that year, North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks.
Two Alabama players did crop up in reports of cash payments during that span, but those payments were said to be in exchange for autographs, according to a USA Today report. Defensive tackle Terrance Cody and cornerback were said to have received between $200 and $400 from a businessman before the 2009 BCS National Championship game. They were not linked by name to Blazer's testimony. Both players denied the payments at the time.
The FBI has been recording Blazer's phone calls since November 2014. He agreed to work with them to help avoid a hefty prison sentence following an investment fraud scheme, ESPN reported.
Federal district Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled on April 19 that LSU basketball coach Will Wade will unlikely have to testify in the corruption trial. Defense attorneys in the case reportedly subpoenaed Wade after a discussion with on the case's defendants were captured on a FBI wiretap.
Ramos ruled that Wade's potential wrongdoings were irrelevant to the pending criminal case which focused on alleged bribes paid to assistant coaches at Arizona, Oklahoma State and USC in exchange for steering college players toward particular agents and financial managers once they reached the NBA.
The two defendants in this trial, Christian Dawkins and Mel Code, were found guilty on multiple counts of fraud in the first college basketball corruption case which ended in October 2018.
Leaked portions of Wade's 2017 conversation with Dawkins discussed a "strong-ass offer" to a recruit believed to be LSU guard Javonte Smart. Wade refused to discuss the recorded comments with the university or NCAA investigators, leading to his suspension during March.
Prosecutors will continue with Blazer's questioning on Wednesday when the trial resumes. The trial is estimated to last several weeks.