COLUMBIA, Mo. — A Missouri men's basketball fan who regularly traveled with the team to NCAA tournament games the past four seasons is among more than a dozen people facing federal drug conspiracy charges for cocaine distribution.

Levi McLean Franklin Coolley, a 33-year-old car stereo shop owner, was on the team plane on tournament trips to Boise, Idaho, and Phoenix in 2009; Buffalo, N.Y., in 2010; and to Washington, D.C., in 2011. Coolley also joined a team flight to Columbia from Austin, Texas, in January and received complimentary tickets from Missouri players at nine games in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

The connection was first reported Sunday by the Columbia Daily Tribune, which obtained flight manifests from the university under state public records laws.

In March, FBI agents arrested Coolley on felony cocaine distribution charges at the Missouri team hotel in Omaha, Neb., hours before the Tigers' most recent NCAA appearance, a second-round loss to Norfolk State. Missouri athletic officials said that an internal review found no improper influence by Coolley, who was on the team flights as a guest of Jay Lindner, a Columbia real estate developer and prominent Missouri donor.

"We conducted a review, and we were comfortable with the results," said spokesman Chad Moller. "It's very concerning, and very troubling to hear that people who come around your program be accused of this type of thing. At a basic level, you try to trust that people are doing the right thing. But it's impossible to know the background of everybody."

A federal grand jury indicted Coolley in late May on four counts of drug distribution, alleging that he conspired to sell more than five kilograms (about 11 pounds) of cocaine from January 2005 through mid-March as well as less than 50 kilograms of marijuana (110 pounds) between July 2011 and March 16 of this year. He and the other defendants are awaiting trial dates.

A total of 16 people face charges in the federal investigation, with five defendants charged after the initial March arrests. All but one of the defendants, a Kansas City man, listed central Missouri addresses in court documents.

Coolley could not be reached for comment on Monday, and his attorney, Jeff Hilbrenner, did not immediately respond to an Associated Press interview request.

Lindner, whose father Jose founded the Forum Development Group and was a Columbia Chamber of Commerce president before his 2010 death, said Coolley's arrest "was a complete shock." Lindner, the development group's president, said he has not since spoken to Coolley.

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden told the Tribune that he too was "shocked" by Coolley's arrest and didn't think the fan's contact with the program involved the improper exchange of tickets by student-athletes or other NCAA violations. Like other Division I programs, Missouri allows major donors to purchase empty seats on team planes when traveling to big events such as NCAA and conference tournaments and football bowl games.

Coolley's team trips occurred under both former Missouri coach Mike Anderson, now at Arkansas, and Frank Haith, who led the team to a 30-5 record and a Big 12 tournament title in his first year in Columbia. Haith spent the previous seven years at Miami, where the NCAA continues to investigate allegations that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro provided cash payments and other extra benefits to 72 Hurricanes athletes between 2002 and 2010.

Haith, who won several national coach of the year awards earlier this year, has denied any improper contact with Shapiro.


Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at

Today on HuffPost College: Professors Behaving Badly

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  • Max Reinhart

    Max Reinhart, a 65-year-old professor of Germanic and Slavic studies at the University of Georgia, <a href="" target="_hplink">was arrested and charged</a> with prostituting himself for $60 and for allegedly running a prostitution house. Reinhart allegedly posed as a woman named "Sasha" in the transexual escort services section of, a well-known classifieds website targeted by activists and law enforcement alike for its featured advertisements.

  • Gamal El-Zoghby

    Firefighters <a href="" target="_hplink">discovered child pornography</a> while putting out a fire at the waterfront home of 76-year-old Gamal El-Zoghby in New Jersey in January 2012. The <a href="" target="_hplink">AP reported</a> that the firefighters were checking for hidden pockets of flame behind the walls by pulling down panels of sheet rock when a single magazine from the 1970s with pornographic images of pre-pubescent girls fell from behind one of the panels. The firefighters <a href="" target="_hplink">also found </a>60 to 70 vintage Playboy and Hustler magazines.

  • Bill Burnett

    On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Stanford Professor Bill Burnett and his wife Cynthia <a href="" target="_hplink">hosted a party for their son and his friends</a> -- 16 and 17-year-olds -- to celebrate a football win. They bought chips and soda, but were clear about one rule: no alcohol allowed. Cops arrived, responding to a noise complaint and allegations that there was underaged drinking. Though the Burnetts insisted that there was no drinking, the police found alcohol that, they say, the teens snuck in. Burnett was arrested and charged with 44 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- one for each teen at the party. Because of social host laws, parents are liable when underage kids drink on their property -- even if they're unaware that it's happening.

  • J. Wesley Boyd

    J. Wesley Boyd, a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, and his wife, Theonia, a pathologist who also teaches at the medical school, were <a href="" target="_hplink"> arrested at a party after </a>police alleged that underage drinking was happening. Boyd said he and his wife had told the students that there would be no drugs or alcohol allowed at the party. He also said he and his wife and another couple had monitored the party without seeing any alcohol. But several of the students admitted that they had been hiding the drinking from him.

  • Donald Ratcliff

    In March, Wheaton College professor Donald Ratcliff <a href="" target="_hplink">was arrested for allegedly </a>possessing child pornography and two unlicensed handguns. Ratcliff <a href="" target="_hplink">was charged with</a> two counts of Aggravated Child Pornography and was placed on administrative leave. He taught Christian education and child spirituality.

  • CUNY Faculty

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  • Cornell West

    Princeton University professor Cornell West was a big supporter of Occupy Wall Street and traveled to a few of the movement's camps. West was arrested in an act of civil disobedience with 18 others on the <a href="" target="_hplink">steps of the U.S. Supreme Court </a>building in a demonstration against the <em>Citizens United</em> decision.

  • Kenneth Ng

    California State University economics professor Kenneth Ng openly admitted to being the scribe behind, a site that guides tourists through Thailand's sex trade. Ng <a href="" target="_hplink">defended his blogging</a> on the site as "free speech."