By Edwin Blebu
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Less than two years ago, ex-Torero basketball player Brandon Johnson ‘10 was indicted along with nine others for running a sports betting business to control the outcomes of basketball games.
On Nov. 16, 2012, Johnson pled guilty to conspiracy to committ sports bribery with a USD basketball player to influence the outcome of a game. Last Friday, Johnson was sentenced to serve six months in federal prison for his role in the point-shaving scandal.
The latest and hopefully the final stage in the Brandon Johnson point shaving ordeal has come and gone. USD’s all time leader in scoring and assists was given his sentence by U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia who shared some very profound comments directed towards Johnson upon giving the verdict.
“You [Johnson] disparaged the integrity of a university and the integrity of basketball,” Battaglia said. “You’ll keep the records, but like Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens you’ll have some explaining to do.”
For the men’s basketball program, the sentencing of Johnson to prison will provide a sense of closure to the negative press and harsh realities that came along with the point shaving scandal. Although the incident occurred almost two years ago, many students on campus still remember the shock and disappointment they felt when the scandal went public. Senior Joe Alioto offered his take on the sentencing.
“Its unfortunate that the guy who is largely responsible for a lot of our basketball program’s success is also the guy who brought the program to its lowest point because of the negative choices he made,” Alioto said.
In terms of what implications the sentencing means for the basketball program at USD in general, senior Ethan O’Flaherty offered his own sentiments as to future of men’s basketball moving forward.
“I’m glad he [Johnson] is taking responsibility for his actions, but the scandal kind of gave the school a negative image, and that could hurt recruiting new basketball players,” O’Flaherty said.
The USD basketball program enjoyed a lot of success while Johnson was enrolled at the university, but just as Judge Battaglia stated in his courtroom address to Johnson, the records he set will require some extensive explanations. Fortunately because there were no severe sanctions or consequences given to USD as a result of Johnson’s involvement in the scandal, the Toreros can continue to enjoy the peace of mind knowing they can compete in postseason tournaments.
Moving forward, the USD basketball program will try to collectively continue to exemplify actions that represent the game of basketball and the University in high regard. Now that Johnson has been sentenced, the University can officially close that chapter within its own history.