Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock stood by men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams on Thursday in the wake of a Yahoo Sports report that linked Williams to a man who is allegedly part of the college admissions cheating scandal.
Martin Fox, the president of a private tennis academy and camp in Houston, was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit racketeering. He is accused of funneling bribes in exchange for money.
Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday night that Fox sat behind the Virginia Tech bench for last Friday’s home game against Miami. Williams told the website on Wednesday that “I didn’t know he was in the middle of that” cheating scandal.
Yahoo Sports reported that Fox’s since-deleted Twitter account had postgame photos taken in the Tech locker room.
Babcock told The Roanoke Times on Thursday that according to Williams, there is not “anything to be concerned about at all.”
“We trust him and believe him and I’ve never had any reason to doubt him,” Babcock said. “We will have a compliance process and verify.”
Yahoo Sports said Williams was one of a number of college coaches who were close to Fox, who has been an AAU basketball figure in Houston.
“He was in the middle of everything,” Williams told Yahoo Sports.
Williams added in the interview that he was not nervous about his ties to Fox and didn’t know of Fox’s arrest until a Yahoo Sports reporter informed him about that on Wednesday night.
Babcock told The Roanoke Times on Thursday that he does not know how Fox came to be sitting behind the Tech bench last Friday.
“I have not gotten all that information, but I will,” Babcock said.
Babcock said Williams talked to him Wednesday about his relationship with Fox.
“They’ve known each other for a long time, and we’ll find out more,” Babcock said. “He just said that there was nothing to be concerned about at all about their relationship.”
Fox allegedly received a check from a fake charity for introducing a college admissions counselor named William “Rick” Singer to Michael Center, who was then the University of Texas men’s tennis coach. Fox was allegedly also paid to facilitate bribes for a coach at the University of San Diego.
Fox allegedly also bribed a Houston teacher and standardized-test administrator named Lisa “Niki” Williams. Williams was charged with racketeering conspiracy on allegations of facilitating cheating on SAT and ACT exams, and she was accused of allowing Mark Riddell, an official with the IMG Academy in Florida, to take or change tests on behalf of some of his students.
Babcock said Williams has assured him that Fox had nothing to do with the standardized tests of any Tech players or recruits.
“He was very clear … when we talked,” Babcock said. “I’m very confident that we’re in good shape.
“We’ll look into that, but I want to emphasize that we’ve never had any reason to suspect anything before.”
Babcock said the Tech athletic department’s compliance office will look into Fox.
“Buzz has not given us any reasons to doubt anything, but our job is to trust and verify, and we’re going through all that process right now,” Babcock said.