South Florida has had very little success since former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua took over as head coach in 2014. The Bulls are 17-48 (.262 win percentage) in the last two seasons, and haven’t won more than four games in AAC play.
Now, the Bulls are dealing with an even more concerning problem as the program is reportedly being investigated in relation to potential academic fraud. Antigua’s brother, Oliver, has not been allowed to go out on the road to recruit, and later resigned from his position as assistant coach, according to ESPN.
According to the report, South Florida could lose more than just Oliver.
The school issued a statement about the NCAA investigation, which Goodman included in his report: “Because the University of South Florida is committed to protecting the integrity of the investigation and ensuring those involved receive fair treatment, we cannot provide any details about the investigation at this time.”
Per Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times, the NCAA investigation “is believed to involve players on the current roster,” and “other departures could follow” after Antigua’s resignation.
This doesn’t just put the future of the players in jeopardy, this also directly impacts Orlando and his staff. If the allegations do turn out to be true, it’s hard to believe that Orlando is not directly involved, especially given his brother’s resignation. And even if Orlando was clueless about the fraud, nowadays head coaches are supposed to know every single detail and action that is happening within the program.
That’s why Jim Boeheim was suspended. That’s why Larry Brown was suspended. That’s why some are calling for Rick Pitino’s job.
This news is also coming out at the worst possible time for the Bulls, as 1) they could be a strong candidate to join the Big 12, and 2) they have a solid roster that could take a step forward in the AAC this upcoming season.
When it comes to moving into the Big 12, USF doesn’t seem to be the perfect school. However, there are positives that other colleges cannot match. The Bulls are located in Florida, which is a prime location for recruiting, and they are also located in a decent market in Tampa.
Sure, they would have to compete with Florida State and Florida, but isn’t that something the Big 12 should be looking at, expanding their horizon to try to make some money where other conferences are making THEIR cash?
But with these recent allegations, the Big 12 is surely not going to want to add a program that has question marks moving forward. They have other solid options like BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UConn, and so on that don’t have a scandal hanging over their heads.
Meanwhile, the roster for this upcoming season is much improved. Guard Geno Thorpe is eligible after transferring from Penn State, rising sophomore Jahmal McMurray is back after testing out the NBA Draft pool, and the Bulls add three freshman, including four-star 6’8″ small forward Troy Baxter.
The Bulls obviously won’t compete nationally and aren’t likely to be in the mix for the NCAA Tournament, but it will certainly be a step in the right direction to win more than nine games (if it does indeed happen).
So it’s bad timing all around, and it could take a turn for the worst if Orlando also loses his job in the near future.