University of San Diego coach would feel 'betrayed' if bribery allegations against former star are true
"I think I did a lot to help that young man out," Coach Bill Grier said of Brandon Johnson, one of 10 people indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego on bribery allegations.
Grier declined to say why he suspended Johnson from the team in 2009 except to say that, "My relationship with Brandon on the floor was up and down at times."
The riff reportedly was over Grier's demand that his star play a more team-oriented style of basketball rather than one emphasizing his own skills.
Johnson, who graduated last year, is the school's top scorer and assist leader. He briefly played for the Dakota Wizards, an NBA instructional league. He was arrested and arraigned in Houston.
Grier's comments came at a news conference in which athletic director Ky Snyder and USD President Mary Lyons defended the university and its athletic program and said that the allegations against Johnson, former player Brandon Dowdy, and former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown will not "define this university."
Snyder said that other athletes are now wondering if games in which they played were rigged. "This is not a victimless crime," he said.
Lyons said the specter of point-shaving has hovered over collegiate athletics for some time. "No one is immune, not even this great university," she said.
The three officials declined to discuss the specifics of the case except to say they did not know of an investigation until Monday morning, just hours before the indictment was revealed by the U.S. attorney at a high-profile news conference.
Grier said two FBI agents came to his home at 6:30 a.m. Monday to question him.
According to the indictment, gamblers sought to rig games at the University of San Diego and UC Riverside so they could profit by betting on those games in Las Vegas.
Grier indicated he never felt anything strange about games in which Johnson's performance was sub-par. "Good players have bad games; bad players have good games," he said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Head coach Bill Grier of the San Diego Toreros watches his team take on the Pepperdine Waves during the first round of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena March 4, 2011. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images