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Vague rumors have been floating about for a few years, but they may have been recently confirmed: Evidence suggests that a former Russian crime boss known only as the “Muffin Man” has been playing – or possibly redshirting – on the UCSB men’s basketball team for multiple seasons.

“That motherfucking Muffin Man can’t be trusted,” a source said, remaining anonymous for fear of reprisal. “He’s just got too much power, too much money, and – I hate to say it – too many women.”

An incriminating trail of crumbs has become more visible in the past 24 months: gold-plated warm-up jerseys suddenly appearing for the team, receipts for the installation of a 30-person hot tub underneath the Thunderdome, and even a private retreat in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Allegedly, these extravagances and many more have all been funded by the Muffin Man.

“There’s no doubt that the Muffin Man has near-unlimited funds thanks to his impenetrable crime rings in both the former Soviet Union and numerous South American countries,” Interpol Investigator Steed Rhozen said. “It would take someone like the Muffin Man to fund the reported expenditures made in connection with the UCSB team, but unfortunately, we have no information on his identity aside from his name.”

The basketball administration has been notoriously tight-lipped on the issue, but their silence is surprisingly unnecessary from a legal standpoint. The Muffin Man, who is said to have fled the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s to avoid prosecution, is assumed to have funneled his money into a geological exploitation empire in South America, although no paper trail exists. Still, the Muffin Man is largely untouchable from a legal standpoint, nor does his playing on the team violate any NCAA bylaws.

“I will neither comment on the existence of said ‘Muffin Man’ nor on his presence on my squad,” UCSB Head Coach “Cowboy” Bob Williams said. “Our roster is, top to bottom, quality young men that do not partake in the kind of womanizing and flagrant money-waving that the Muffin Man is known for.”

However, discussions with members on the Gaucho roster have produced conflicting accounts. Senior forward Chris Devine, third on the UCSB all-time scoring list, skirted answering questions about the Muffin Man’s economic stimulus package.

“What the hell are you doing in the locker room?” Devine said. “I’m trying to shower here. Get that mic out of my damn face!”

Despite Devine’s refusal to talk, freshman forward James Nunnally was more forthcoming. Through the secure channels of Facebook, Nunnally provided a harrowing account of the Muffin Man’s lifestyle.

“He’s always cruising DP, that’s about it,” he said.

With such sordid tales casting shadows on the team, many have questioned Santa Barbara’s future in what has been dubbed the “Muffin Man Era.” However, some members of the administration have parlayed the mystery surrounding the Muffin Man into increased revenue.

“After ‘Muffin Man Night’ – in which we gave out blueberry muffins with a little hmm hmm tossed into the batter – sold out in 10 minutes, we’ve decided to try and use his mystique to appeal to a more VIP crowd,” Assistant Athletic Director Bill Mahoney said. “We still officially deny that he is on the team, but the mere chance of seeing the Muffin Man throwing down some Chicago Jam Sessions has moved our target audience far up-market. With the likes of Jay-Z and Rasheed Wallace trying to buy tickets, we probably won’t even have a student section next year.”

With the elusive Muffin Man’s name proving to be extremely lucrative, the UCSB Athletic Dept. certainly has a vested interest in writing off any inquiries into his actual existence on the team as simply half-baked. Yet with the specter of an international criminal haunting the Gaucho sideline, it’s hard not to wonder if the Muffin Man is currently sprinkling the UCSB legacy with doubt.