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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Former QU basketball player named in major NBA lawsuit

Quinnipiac Athletics
The New York Knicks accused former Quinnipiac University men’s basketball player Ikechukwu Azotam of sharing confidential team information with the Toronto Raptors.

He was a key player on the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team in the early 2010s. Now, a decade later, he is the central figure in an explosive National Basketball Association scandal involving the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors.

But what happened? Here’s an overview:

The Knicks organization filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on Aug. 21 accusing a then-Knicks employee of emailing thousands of pages of confidential documents to Raptors employees.

The Knicks named former Quinnipiac basketball player Ikechukwu “Ike” Azotam as the ex-employee in the suit.

Between 2010 and 2014, the 6-foot-7-inch former forward named in the eight-count lawsuit was a statistical powerhouse for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team.

In his second year as a Bobcat, Azotam made over 55% of his more than 360 field goal attempts. Since then, only two Quinnipiac forwards who attempted at least 100 two-pointers have recorded higher field goal percentages. Azotam then put up 518 points his senior season — a feat no Bobcats forward and just two guards have achieved since.

Azotam attained all-conference team status three times during his Quinnipiac career before moving to Spain to play professionally for CB Marín Peixegalego in 2014-15. However, Azotam’s professional playing career ended in December 2015 after a routine physical revealed an irregular heartbeat.

Graduating from Quinnipiac in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in media studies and from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018 with a master’s degree in advertising, Azotam held various positions in the Knicks’ video and analytics departments between October 2020 and August 2023.

The Raptors organization, per the suit, began recruiting Azotam in June 2023 before officially offering him a job the following month.

The lawsuit claims that Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis and 10 unknown Raptors employees then “conspired to use Azotam’s position as a current Knicks insider to tunnel proprietary information to the Raptors to help them organize, plan, and structure the new coaching and video operations staff.”

Ikechukwu Azotam, the ex-Knicks employee accused of tunneling proprietary team information to the Toronto Raptors, played forward for the Quinnipiac Bobcats from 2010-14 (Quinnipiac Athletics)

In a statement, Toronto Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment denied having “any involvement in the matters alleged.”

“MLSE responded promptly, making clear our intention to conduct an internal investigation and to fully cooperate,” the statement read. “MLSE and the Toronto Raptors will reserve further comment until this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”

The Knicks allege that, between late July and mid-August, Azotam — whose employment agreement with the Knicks contained a confidentiality clause — used his Knicks email account to share “proprietary information,” first with his personal email account, and subsequently with the Raptors.

The suit against the Raptors accuses Azotam of providing his future employer access to over 3,000 files and documents, including scouting reports and play frequency reports.

Two of the emails the Knicks specifically describe in the lawsuit had the subject lines “FW: INDIANA GAME 82” and “FW: DENVER ADVANCE SCOUT REPORT.” In these emails, Azotam allegedly shared with the Raptors scouting reports of the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets, hundreds of diagrams and breakdowns of each team’s plays and spreadsheets documenting each team’s play calls during specific games.

“From both my experience and conversations with others around the league suggests that showing up with plenty of examples of past work is extremely commonplace,” former Milwaukee Bucks director of basketball research Seth Partnow tweeted. “For the most part, information contained in such samples gets stale pretty quickly, so it’s more about the form of the report, document or tool rather than the contents.”

The lawsuit shines a particular spotlight on the scouting reports Azotam allegedly forwarded to the Raptors, noting that such documents are “widely recognized in all major sports leagues as some of the most secretive and important pieces of proprietary information.”

The Knicks stated in the suit that the organization’s insider threat security team discovered the file theft in mid-August. An investigation of the Knicks’ records subsequently revealed that the Raptors defendants had accessed the team’s files thousands of times, according to the lawsuit.

“This material is confidential, competitively sensitive, and valuable to the Knicks,” the suit states. “The Knicks have been harmed by this theft and will continue to be harmed if this misconduct is not enjoined by this Court.”

Quinnipiac Athletics declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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Cat Murphy
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Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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