I’ll be the first to admit: when I read Pat Forde and Pete Thamel’s piece about the FBI investigation into a sports agency, I nearly did a spit-take when I saw “former Vanderbilt player Wade Baldwin” listed as having had a meal with agent Christian Dawkins, who’s currently under federal indictment.
But maybe we shouldn’t be freaking out about it. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Christian Dawkins’ expense report lists a $182.57 expense for the Loews Hotel with the notation “Wade Baldwin Meeting” on March 2, 2016. This would have been the day after Vanderbilt’s Senior Night win over Tennessee. We’re assuming that Dawkins is referring to the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel here.
Let’s think this through. It wouldn’t be unheard of, but it seems rather silly that Dawkins would pay for Baldwin to stay at a hotel across the street from Vanderbilt’s campus. The expense listed on the report was likely for Dawkins’ own hotel stay. Merely meeting with an agent, but not accepting any extra benefits, would not be in and of itself an NCAA violation.
And even if Wade Baldwin had gotten a hotel room paid for by an agent, here’s the kicker: there aren’t any wins to vacate. Baldwin would play in three more games for Vanderbilt after the alleged meeting with Dawkins. Those games: a loss to Texas A&M in the final game of the regular season; a loss to Tennessee in the second round of the SEC Tournament; and a loss to Wichita State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The only punishment the NCAA could hand down would be retroactively declaring Baldwin ineligible and vacating some wins — only if the timeline is correct, Vanderbilt doesn’t even have any wins to vacate.
So we can exhale for now. There is a very good chance that no money changed hands and this is a great big nothing burger.