Ibrahim Johnson, brother of five-star Texas commit Mohamed Bamba, posted a 22-minute Facebook Live video on Monday in which he repeated the phrase “long story short” at least a dozen times and claimed Bamba received, amongst other things, shoes, vacations, dental work, a television, a $200-per-week allowance, and credit card bill payments from Greer Love, a vice president at a Michigan-based investment firm. Basically, as Johnson put it, “all the shit that the NCAA will prosecute you for.”
Johnson ratted out Bamba, the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2017, after Bamba allegedly reneged on an offer to make his older brother his agent following his time at Texas. Johnson said he intended on following his younger brother to whichever school he chose and enroll in graduate school; from there, he hoped to complete a degree and obtain the necessary certification required of NBA agents.
According to Johnson’s version of events, Bamba backed out of the plan three days before he departed for Texas—Johnson claims Love told him “I’ve already got [agents] lined up for your brother” and that his brother told him to “stay on the block”—and informed his older brother he’d prefer to be represented by a more established agent.
In an attempt to force Bamba’s hand, Johnson, along with his mother, moved to Texas. When Bamba still didn’t relent, Johnson recorded the below rant and uploaded it to his Facebook page:
Love has reportedly been a mentor to Bamba since he was 10 years old—the investor runs an academic and athletic-focused mentorship program for Harlem elementary school P.S. 208, which Bamba attended.
In the video, Johnson said he first met Love last year; following the meeting, Bamba allegedly revealed that it was Love that had been the one financing his recent purchases and trips. Johnson claims that Love took the pair on a vacation to Orlando, where the brothers met with NBA executives who lobbied for Bamba to attend certain schools. He also alleged that Love funded a trip to San Diego for Bamba to “meet his girlfriend.” (San Diego State was briefly in the mix to land Bamba.)
Johnson quickly came to despise his sibling’s benefactor, though, when he realized Love was intent on helping craft a career path for Bamba that did not include him as his younger brother’s agent—in his video, Johnson refers to Bamba as Love’s “bitch,” says you could “see the devil” in Love’s eyes, and claims that the businessman was the one responsible for driving a wedge between him and Bamba.
As it is both a Facebook video and the ad-hoc testimony of a jaded family member, Johnson’s rant and stories are to be taken with a heap of salt. Johnson’s claims have yet to be publicly addressed by the NCAA or Bamba. Love has answered the allegations, and clarified that he has gone out of his way to make sure that all the assistance, both financial and otherwise, he has offered Bamba was above board:
“When Mo asked me to guide him and help coordinate the logistics of his recruitment,” Love told Slater, “I immediately engaged the former Chief Compliance Officer of two Big Ten/Big 12 schools, who provided frequent consultation on a variety of matters. Doing things the right way has been our top priority since day one. Mo’s got way too much to lose to take any chances on anything even remotely impermissible. With my nine-year, preexisting relationship on the line with Mo personally, let alone his college eligibility, I took several additional measures to ensure that Mo was fully compliant every step of the way.”
Even if the allegations prove true, nothing Love or Johnson are alleged to have done is illegal, nor do they necessarily run afoul of the NCAA’s regulations, and they especially shouldn’t be all that harmful to his NBA prospects.
Of course, given the NCAA’s propensity for siccing its investigative units on any player that attempts to circumvent its draconian amateurism bylaws by way of a wealthy benefactor, the video still does cast a pall over Bamba’s potential eligibility for the upcoming season. Should the NCAA find anything to back up Johnson’s claims, and determine that they were impermissible, the Longhorns would potentially be down one program-changing player—though the athletic department should avoid sanctions, as Johnson put forth that Texas had no prior knowledge of any of this.
The Longhorns athletics department issued the following statement in response to Johnson’s statements, via Yahoo Sports:
“As is usual practice by the NCAA, Mo’s amateur status was previously reviewed and final certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center,” the statement from Texas read. “The NCAA has not informed us of any pending issues or eligibility concerns at this time regarding Mo. If there are further questions, we certainly will cooperate with the NCAA to the fullest.”
The entire situation is a shitshow—Johnson is a terrible brother for actively trying to torpedo his younger brother’s collegiate career; he also essentially proved both Love and Bamba right to be wary of Johnson’s involvement in his brother’s career by choosing this scorched-earth response. On the other hand, Johnson appears to some degree to have been misled by both his brother and Love, both of whom probably erred by 1) allowing these agent conversations with Johnson to progress as far as they did, and 2) thinking they could do so, continue to allegedly violate (stupid) NCAA rules, and still avoid at least some sort of negative reaction from Johnson.
Long story short: An avoidable situation blew the fuck up. Navigating the tangle of personal and professional relationships, an impending meteoric economic ascension, and all the problems that are bound to stem from the two is a Herculean, often depressing task even in the best of circumstances. If only allowing these teens going through what can be the most trying periods of their lives some assistance from experienced professionals who could look out for their best interests wasn’t itself a violation of the NCAA’s insane rulebook.