James R. Riffel
City News Service
The president of the University of San Diego said Friday that allegations of point-shaving in the men's basketball program will not be a "defining moment" for the school.
At a news conference, USD President Dr. Mary Lyons also expressed her "unwavering support'" for Ky Snyder, the university's athletic director, and Bill Grier, the head basketball coach.
"We are not diminished by these events," Lyon said. "This university is built on a foundation of many, many years of ethics and integrity."
The FBI announced on Monday that former Toreros players Brandon Johnson and Brandon Dowdy, along with ex-assistant coach Thaddeus TJ Brown— who was placed on administrative leave from his job as La Jolla High's JV basketball coach after the indictment — attempted to influence the outcome of games to enrich people gambling on the contests. Seven other defendants — not believed to be connected to the basketball program — have also been charged.
The allegations are an "aberration" that "can't be a defining moment for us," Lyons said.
Grier said he learned of the allegations when a pair of FBI agents came to his door Monday morning. He called Snyder, who then found out that earlier this month the FBI arranged a meeting with school officials for that morning without disclosing a reason.
The FBI has not shared information other than what's been reported, said Snyder, who expressed his support for Grier, in wake of the allegations and a 6-24 season.
Grier, who just completed his fourth season as the Toreros head coach, conceded he had an up-and-down relationship on the court with Johnson, who he inherited from the previous staff.
Off the court, he thought the relationship with the school's all-time leading scorer was "excellent."
"If all the allegations are true, I feel deeply disappointed and betrayed," Grier said.
The coach said Johnson's play did not raise alarm bells about gambling influences.
"Good players have bad games, bad players have good games," Grier said. "That's the nature of athletics."
The guard performance his first three seasons made it appear he could have a professional future, perhaps overseas, but he ruptured his Achilles tendon early in his senior year in a cross-town game at San Diego State. He missed the rest of the season, but returned in 2009-10, when some of the point-shaving allegedly took place.
Dowdy was with the Toreros for one year before transferring.
Grier said his players, who were mostly freshmen and sophomores, were shocked when the allegations were leveled, but the "tight-knit group" began to rally by Wednesday.
Lyons, Snyder and Grier all refused to comment directly on details of the allegations because the FBI investigation was continuing.