The AmeriLeague pro basketball player draft has been postponed, the league faces a lawsuit, and potential players began turning away from the league Thursday amid fallout over the disclosure of the true identity of the league's founder.
Late Wednesday, Outside the Lines reported that current and former AmeriLeague employees believed the founder of the league, who touted himself as Cerruti Brown, is actually former McDonald's All American Glendon Alexander, who has numerous criminal convictions for fraud.
Marcus Bass, the AmeriLeague's operations manager, said he's still in shock over the developments involving Brown, but he remains in discussions with agents and players and is hopeful someone will step forward as an investor to either buy individual teams or run the entire six-team league.
"It was a viable product," Bass said Thursday. "It's a good model, an intelligent idea. There has to be someone out there who believes in this. It's good players who are committed in Las Vegas."
Bass said the draft, initially scheduled to be held Thursday afternoon, has been postponed while he tries to gather more information and see if he can save the fledgling league.
On Wednesday, Bass said he confronted Brown after being called by Outside the Lines: "I talked to him, asked him, and he admitted he was Glendon Alexander. He told me he was stepping away and to tell the staff that there'll be new ownership. I was in shock. I'm just hoping that all the people who have worked on this project can land on their feet."
Brown could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday. But he denied in a text message earlier this month that he was Glendon Alexander.
"Very wrong! Your [sic] not the first person who has asked me that either," he wrote.
Brown and his small staff had touted the league as being funded by investors and had announced recent successes in signing numerous ex-NBA players, including Royce White, who was taken 16th overall in the 2012 NBA draft.
Bass, who had not talked with Brown on Thursday said, he's only been told of one player of the 20 or so who have agreed to contracts who has asked to be released -- Kenny Manigault. Two agents who represent multiple players said they have not ruled out the option of playing in the league -- if it gets off the ground.
"It's not as if these guys had a ton of options," one agent said.
Meanwhile, the league and Brown are facing a legal challenge in Tennessee, the home state of a player-agent who began working with the league.
J. Mark Benfield, an attorney who represents player-agent Tod Seidel, filed a lawsuit in a Tennessee circuit court against LVD International LLC (aka AmeriLeague) and Glendon Alexander, claiming the league failed to pay Seidel's management company for work. The lawsuit claims that LVD International agreed to pay TBS Management an initial payment of $6,500 on June 15, 2015. It also states that LVD was to pay $11,750 per month for a one-year period.
"Ted was going to be a business consultant," Benfield said. "He was providing him with general business information such as contracts, scheduling and dealing with overseas people. Cerruti, or whatever his name was, never paid him a cent."
Bass was not the first employee to raise questions about Brown's identity. The league's commissioner left after just one week in Las Vegas with suspicions and didn't return. The president bolted after eight days because of similar concerns. And one of the six coaches pulled out just before boarding a flight for the start-up basketball league's hub, Las Vegas, because he had heard the rumblings.
"Unless he has a body double, it's definitely him," former league commissioner Ethan Norof told Outside the Lines on Wednesday afternoon, immediately after watching a video of Alexander from 2014. "No question about it."
Public records show links between Brown and Alexander. A Cerruti Nino Brown was born on Feb. 28, 1977, according to Texas birth records. That birth record lists Rupert Nati Brown as the father, who appears in other court records and public documents to also go by the name of Rupert Alexander, the name of Glendon's father. There is no Texas birth record for a Glendon Alexander, whose online biographies and criminal records list his date of birth as Feb. 28, 1978, and his hometown as Carrollton, Texas.
Public records databases also have no data on anyone named Cerruti Brown in the United States. Aside from the Texas birth record and a Nevada business license for LVD International, Outside the Lines found no other paper trail for Brown. State of Texas and Dallas County officials said they had no record of a legal name change, though.
Brown spoke repeatedly to the media last month about the AmeriLeague. He declined to talk about his background in detail, however, and refused to divulge the league's investors. There are no pictures of Brown on the official league website, and none in any stories that have been written about him.
Alexander, a McDonald's All American out of the Dallas area, began his college career at Arkansas before transferring to Oklahoma State after two seasons. He averaged 9.6 points per game as a freshman in 1996-97 for Nolan Richardson and the Razorbacks, and finished his career in Stillwater in 1999-2000, averaging 11.7 points for a team that advanced to the Elite Eight.
Alexander admitted to stealing a scholarship check from then-teammate Ivan McFarlin at Oklahoma State, and told Sports Illustrated that he received $10,000 from boosters and didn't attend class. In 2002, Alexander was charged with stealing $150,000 in cash and jewelry from former Major League Baseball player Derek Bell.
His list of transgressions is lengthy and contains convictions for bank and wire fraud. Alexander admitted to writing checks totaling nearly $50,000 off the account of a Dallas-area dentist and transferred more than $1.5 million from an adult-entertainment industry executive's account into his own. That landed Alexander at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, where he was released on Oct. 11, 2005.
A Dallas Morning News story in 2014 documented that Alexander was in charge of a prep school in Iowa, the ABCD Basketball Academy. One of the players' parents said she pulled her son because of "substandard housing, meals and basketball training."
According to the newspaper, she filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in an effort to recoup some of the $4,000 she sent him.
Alexander, then 36, told the Morning News: "All my con days, that's in the past."
Norof said he worked as the commissioner for the AmeriLeague for about a month and did not receive any compensation. Norof said he was told by Brown that he would receive a $150,000 salary for the year, but the contract that was emailed had the figure at $50,000.
"Unless you count breakfast, I didn't get anything," said Norof, who left AmeriLeague in early October.
Jonathan Jordan replaced Norof as the de facto commissioner, with the title of president. He resigned earlier in the week after questions surfaced surrounding Brown's true identity.
"I resigned because I believe that material misrepresentations were made to me in the course of my employment and that important information that affected my position was withheld from me, which made it difficult for me to continue to do my job," Jordan told Outside the Lines.
Joe Connelly was one of four coaches, along with former NBA players Tree Rollins and Paul Mokeski, and Martin Knezevic. Connelly told Outside the Lines that he resigned Monday night after also fearing that Brown's identity was fraudulent.
"The sad part of all this is, there are guys who turned down jobs and are headed to Vegas right now," Connelly said. "That's the part that bothers me. He's selling people dreams. It goes against everything I stand for and want to be associated with."