The youth basketball scene in Canada is replete with rumours about club coaches and others close to teenaged athletes being offered money or jobs to steer players to U.S. schools.
"It's a fact," says Guy Pariseau, technical director for the Quebec Basketball Federation. "I know coaches in Quebec who have been offered $10,000 to have their kid go to a [certain U.S.]prep school."
Adds Mike George, co-founder of CIA Bounce, a high-profile Toronto-area club that competes in the American Athletic Union, "Are there people getting paid? Absolutely."
But Ro Russell, another prominent club coach from Toronto who is running an elite basketball program at Christian Faith Academy in Creedmore, N.C., says the allegations are unproven. "It's comical," Russell says. "There are no kickbacks. That's in the movies. I'm from Jane and Finch [an impoverished Toronto neighbourhood] I drive a used minivan. I rent. Where's all this money?"