Amazon Studios and Smokehouse Pictures (George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s production company) have acquired a lucrative screen rights deal to Hot Dog Money: Inside the Biggest Scandal in the History of College Sports. Written by Guy Lawson, the book details the largest scandal in NCAA history: It’s a tale that involved coast-to-coast bribery, a $2.5 million scam, and a Hank Hill/Goodfellas-type deal. Welcome to the world of college sports.
Hot Dog Money pulls the curtain back on the exploitation of kids for the sake of greed, and how it can rear its ugly head in the college sports industry. It shows how schools, coaches, companies, and managers will turn a blind eye, along with the NCAA and TV channels, if they can get a little something. Say, a stay at a Four Seasons, or a new Rolls.
Focusing on the story of Marty Blazer, a crook who was very bad at his job, the film will cover, according to Deadline, “the breadth of the scandal and cuts to the core of the problems inherent in the indentured servitude that is college sports.” As we know, it’s totally unfair that young, talented players are worked to the bone, their image used however others see fit, and everybody profits but the players. Essentially, Blazer went undercover to save his own ass — simultaneously uncovering the vicious world of college sports.
The Goodfellas of the NCAA
Blazer, then-financial advisor, was in trouble. Basically, he agreed to fund a movie that consistently needed money. When he was tapped, he used an NFL client’s money (to the tune of $450k). To avoid a lawsuit when the client found out, Blazer stole half a million from another client to pay them back. And fund a random country music venture. Eventually, in 3 years, Blazer racked up $2.35 million from clients, and in 2013, the SEC got involved. His jig was up, and he was looking at up to 67 years in prison.
Thinking fast, Blazer cut a deal: What if he could work with the feds to expose a secret college sports organized crime ring? Because for years, Blazer secretly paid college players as a sort of investment. See, Blazer was a (horrible) financial advisor. If he could earn the trust of talented players, well, those are potential future NFL clients.
So that’s exactly what he did — paying for luxury hotels, cars, strip club visits to woo kids. According to Blazer, everyone did it. What’s more, everyone knew about it. So instead of all that trial, conviction, and jail time business, what if he went undercover and blew the roof off this thing?
It took some convincing, but the feds agreed. Blazer became an informant — meeting with coaches, layers, agents — to find the perfect person, like aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins. Dawkins connected Blazer (code name: “Jeff DeAngelo”) to colleges, companies (like Under Armour and adidas), and coaches in the NCAA big leagues. From there, he was off.
Blazer and his wiretap exposed the crimes of those who controlled the careers and futures of their college players. You want to represent the star of the basketball team once they go pro? Forty grand to the assistant coach. Merl Code Jr. of adidas wants a certain high school senior to attend an adidas school, like Louisville? Could the senior’s dad use a smooth $100,000 to impact his decision?
During the two-year investigation, Blazer used hundreds of thousands of FBI money to bribe coaches and schools like UCLA, Alabama, Louisville, and University of Arizona under the watchful eye of the feds themselves.
In 2017 on ESPN, the takedown caused a media frenzy. But past the NIL ruling, the NCAA didn’t do much. Even though the gender disparity in sports was apparent during the investigation, it seems they just wanted to be done with it. So we hope the movie doesn’t cover that fact up.
Thankfully, the impact of the NIL ruling seems to be going well: Meet Kiki Rice. And as far as adidas goes, we know they’ve made some missteps. We can only hope the NCAA takes further action.
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