By now, the story of Keith "Tiny" Gallon -- the big-bodied Oklahoma recruit who went one-and-done after a disappointing Sooners season amid allegations that a financial adviser in Florida wired him $3,000 before he landed in Norman -- is well-known. But we were missing one crucial aspect of Gallon's story: his take on the matter. Which is why this post from Adam Zagoria is worth a look.
Gallon gave his first interview about the controversial money to Zagsblog, wherein Gallon describes the money as a loan his mother needed so the family could get Oak Hill Academy, where Gallon played high school basketball, to release his transcript and allow him to attend Oklahoma. Gallon and his family had been falling behind on tuition payments to Oak Hill, hence the hold on his transcript. In Gallon's words:
"Oak Hill wouldn’t release my transcript under no circumstances and my mother had to do what she had to do," Gallon said Thursday following a workout with the Knicks at their training facility. "It wasn’t an agent, it was a financial adviser. She got the money from him, got my transcript out of Oak Hill Academy. I got a single mother. When she got the money, she paid the financial adviser back through my freshmen year."
He added: “It wasn’t how it looked. My mother did what she could do to let me go to school. My mother didn’t have $3,000 to pay to a school [or else] I wouldn’t be able to go to school.”
On its face, Gallon's story is plausible, though it's something of a mystery why Oak Hill wouldn't release one of its students' transcripts to a major college basketball program for the purposes of getting that student enrolled at the school even in the face of outstanding tuition payments. Gallon's story also inspires empathy, as it's a familiar one: High school recruits are often treated like stars, but their root financial situations can be dire and $3,000 is a lot of money to anybody, let alone a single mother trying to get her son into college. If Gallon's story is true, and they money was merely a loan that his mom paid off through Gallon's freshman year at OU, then, hey, great.
But there are problems here. The main one is that Gallon's story doesn't account for the 41 calls and 25 text messages sent over a 10-month period between former Oklahoma assistant Oronde Taliaferro and Jeffrey Hausinger, the Florida-based financial adviser who wired Gallon the money. How do you explain that? Why is an Oklahoma assistant speaking so frequently with a random financial adviser in Florida right around the same time that financial adviser is giving an Oklahoma recruit $3,000, even if that money was a loan?
Tiny doesn't address that minor detail, but it's the one that could end up getting Oklahoma in serious NCAA trouble. You simply can't give a recruit $3,000, whether as a loan through back channels or not, and expect to explain it away when it's discovered by outsiders. Is that right? Maybe not. Does Gallon's situation, assuming it's true, inspire empathy? Absolutely. But them's the NCAA rules, and on this type of thing, the NCAA rules are more than clear.