PHILADELPHIA – The FBI Tuesday arrested ten NCAA basketball officials, including assistant coaches at some of the country’s top programs in conjunction with an investigation into alleged bribery, corruption and fraud. The story was first broken by NBC News.
Among those who have been reportedly arrested are Lamont Evans, the assistant coach at Oklahoma State; Chuck Person, the assistant coach at Auburn; Book Richardson of Arizona; and Tony Bland, the associate head coach of USC, Jim Gatto, the head of sports marketing for Adidas, was also reportedly arrested along with Merl Code, who recently left Nike for Adidas; Christian Dawkins, an NBA agent who was fired in May from ASM Sports for charging approximately $42,000 in Uber charges on a players’ credit card. Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of the League Initiative and program director of the Adidas sponsored I Family AAU program; Munish Sood, a financial adviser; and Rashum Michael, a former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a custom clothier for athletes.
The investigation is being headed by the FBI and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office. The two offices have been investigating the criminal impact of money on coaches and players since 2015. Investigators have been looking at whether coaches at those schools have been paid by outside entities– such as financial advisers, agents and apparel companies — in exchange for pressuring players to associate with these entities through bribes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the investigation focuses on the highly competitive pipeline that brings elite high school players through college programs to the NBA, and the role played by assistant coaches in that process.
This is a bombshell that cuts into the core of the sport and the highly competitive recruiting world of summer basketball. It is a federal case that could affect funding to any land grant university. It could also be the beginning of a wide-ranging investigation of the entire Shoe Company sponsorship of non-scholastic youth athletics.
It could also be the tip of a huge iceberg that could be a huge black eye for college basketball. For years a cry for the NCAA to take more action was hampered by their lack of supena power and punishment beyond their non-profit athletic membership organization. In the past it was hard for law-enforcement to get people to talk or for the FBI to spend the resources to research these long-going complaints of youth and parents being enticed to NCAA institutions with cash payments.
The sealed FBI complaint against Gatto and others also includes a reference to a public research university located in Kentucky, which ESPN says could be Louisville. The complaint says the school matches an enrollment of 22,640, which matches Louisville; and that the school offers 21 sports teams, which is the exact number Louisville offers. The allegations against the unnamed school include payments of $100,000 from a sports apparel company to the family of an unnamed player to ensure him signing with the school. There is another reference to a school thought to be Miami of Florida.
The University of Louisville says it was unaware of any investigation.
Coaches can make student-athletes available to sports agents, financial advisors and business managers. But the investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have steered players to special agents because the players were being bribed by those advisors.
Court documents state that Gatto, Code, Dawkins, Augustine and Sood allegedly made bribes to at least three schools and their families. One situation involved $100,000 to play at an Adidas sponsored schools. The second involved payments to commit to a certain school and then retain Dawkins’ services. The third involved as much as $150,000 to attend an Adidas-sponsored school, sign with Dawkins and also sign with Adidas.
Documents also state that Michel offered Person $50,000 in bribe payments in exchange for using his position to steer players to retain the services of CW-1 and Michel. According to court documents, Evans, Richardson and Bland all allegedly received benefits from Dawkins and Sood to influence college players to use their services.
Adidas has said it was unaware whether Gatto was allegedly arranging to play high school players.