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Cal Begins Investigation of Star Player : College basketball: Tremaine Fowlkes accused of taking a car from sports agent.


The University of California is investigating allegations that star sophomore basketball forward Tremaine Fowlkes was given a car by a sports agent, The Times has learned.

John Kasser, Cal's athletic director, said Tuesday that the school notified the Pacific 10 Conference of the investigation, after learning of the allegations.

"There are some rumors out there that there is some involvement with a sports agent, but there are no facts to substantiate that," Kasser said. "We are investigating it just like we investigate any rumors we hear."

However, sources have told The Times that Cal regards this as more than a rumor, and is actively pursuing it.

According to NCAA rules, athletes who are found to have accepted cash or other gifts from sports agents can lose their eligibility.

Sources say the car was allegedly provided to Fowlkes, the Pac-10 freshman player of the year, by James Casey, an NBA player agent from 1990-93 who once was linked to Chris Mills in another case involving possible NCAA infractions. Casey had provided cars for Mills' father, Claud, to use while Mills was playing in college, according to court documents. Casey could not be reached for comment.

Fowlkes, from Crenshaw High, is in Berkeley and also could not be reached for comment. But his mother, Rae Willis, denied the allegations. "That's not true," she said.

Ron Fowlkes, Tremaine's father, said he received a call from an assistant athletic director at Cal on Tuesday who wanted to talk about the matter. Ron Fowlkes said he did not think his son was guilty of infractions, but did say that in June he had a meeting with Casey to discuss some concerns he had.

"I called Casey and asked him to come over to my office," Ron Fowlkes said. " . . . I am not going to have any comments until I have an opportunity to speak with Cal. I trust my son has not been involved in any wrongdoing. But obviously Cal might be investigating because they called me."

This is the second known investigation this year into Cal's basketball program, which finished a disappointing 5-13 in the conference. Earlier this month, the NCAA leveled two allegations against Cal regarding the recruitment of Georgia basketball star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, one of the nation's top recruits this spring.

At issue is the involvement of a Cal graduate student, Hashim Ali Alauddeen, who advised Abdur-Rahim during the recruiting period. The other allegation involves Denver Nugget guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly known as Chris Jackson at Louisiana State, who paid for Abdur-Rahim's visit to Cal after he was introduced to him by Alauddeen. If Alauddeen was acting as a representative of the university, it would be in violation of NCAA rules and the school could be sanctioned.

But Cal, in its response to the NCAA, contends that the relationships under scrutiny were based solely on friendship and a shared Muslim faith. Abdur-Rahim, who appeared to be bound for Georgia Tech, has said he chose Cal in part because of the the surrounding Islamic community.

"He [Alauddeen] is not a representative of the school if we did not ask him to do it," Kasser said. " . . . His role in this is as an Islamic brother."

Kasser said Cal has investigated the matter thoroughly and believes the school will be cleared. He could not, however, say the same regarding the Fowlkes' matter.

Times Staff Writers Greg Sandoval and Eric Shepard contributed to this story.

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