After a connection between convicted felon Kenneth Caldwell and the Central Florida basketball program was exposed by class of 2011 shooting guard Kevin Ware’s recruitment, the NCAA has contacted UCF regarding reports of improper recruiting activities by phone, but not yet on campus, according to the UCF athletic department spokesman. The school is also conducting an internal investigation taking a look at their recruiting practices after reports surfaced regarding potential recruiting violations.
“We take the current allegations of NCAA violations very seriously,” associate director of athletics for communications Joe Hornstein said in a statement on the allegations. “Our review of this matter began immediately upon receiving notice. It is premature for us to provide comment regarding these allegations at this time, without having the opportunity to thoroughly and completely review the facts. Following our review we will appropriately address this matter.”
Kevin Ware’s Recruitment and Central Florida’s Recruiting Scandal. After class of 2011 shooting guard Kevin Ware committed to the Knights two weeks ago, he backed out of the agreement Thursday when he learned of Kenneth Caldwell’s background, a Chicago man with a substantial criminal record and apparent ties to a prominent sports agency. Ware claims that Caldwell repeatedly called him to encourage him to attend Central Florida, traveled to meet with his family and even set up conversations between Ware, himself and head coach Donnie Jones and Jones’ staff – contact which is prohibited by the NCAA. Caldwell formally denied recruiting players for UCF and claimed he was simply impressed by UCF… a school that has never won an NCAA Tournament game.
When Ware and his family were asked about what coaches said their relationship with Caldwell was, they said the coaches claimed they had no direct affiliation with him but that they had known him for a year. This left the Ware family wondering exactly who Caldwell was and how he tied in with UCF. On his LinkedIn page, Caldwell claimed to be a recruiter of potential NBA players for ASM Sports, which the company later confirmed. What was even more frightening about Caldwell’s background were his two felony convictions in 1991 and again in 1998. He also owes the IRS close to $250,000. After looking at his history and claims, Caldwell could fairly be labeled as a “runner,” someone who acts as a middle man to deliver players to universities and agents.
How current UCF commit Michael Chandler Ties In. Caldwell’s ties to the UCF program started a few years ago when a high school student whom he refers to as his “son” committed to the Knights. Then, two more players whom Caldwell likes to call his “nephews” also chose UCF for their collegiate careers, including one of the best class of 2011 centers in the country, Michael Chandler. Before becoming a Knight, Chandler had previously committed to Louisville and Xavier before he shocked many people by settling on Central Florida. Chandler’s high school coach said he’d never even heard of Central Florida before Chandler committed there. However, Chandler’s uncle said the prospect chose UCF on its merits. In Pat Forde’s column this week analyzing the odd recruitment, he said a source with knowledge of the situation claimed that Caldwell bragged about having inside information of where Chandler would be attending college well before he made his decision public.
More Ties With “Runner” Ken Caldwell include Enes Kanter and Braeden Anderson. The Caldwell web of players continues to grow and reaches out all the way to Kentucky power forward Enes Kanter, according to ESPN. The link between Kanter and Caldwell starts with Caldwell’s relationship with former Louisville forward Brandon Bender, who, according to multiple SEC coaches, reached out to them claiming he could deliver Kanter. This is where the shady side of things picks up again since Caldwell and multiple other sources (including DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell) have said that Caldwell and Bender have worked together whereas Bender claims to have no knowledge of who Caldwell is. One thing that Bender will confirm, though, is the fact that he attended the Kentucky Derby Festival to see recent Kansas-commit Braeden Anderson. Anderson says he doesn’t know Bender that well but a source says he stayed with an associate of Caldwell’s and Bender’s during the Derby Festival and Bender even coached Anderson’s AAU team last year. Obviously, this whole situation is very suspicious with all of these contradictory statements and an NCAA investigation is likely to pursue this story to its fullest extent.