A total of ten individuals, including a retired NBA star, college basketball coaches, and a senior executive of Adidas, have been arrested and are now facing fraud charges in what is perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in NCAA history.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has filed charges of fraud against the ten individuals after prosecutors have uncovered two alleged pay-for-play schemes in college basketball. The first scheme involved assistant coaches getting paid to help influence college basketball players to get the services of certain financial advisers and sports apparel manufacturers. The other related scheme involves bribing basketball players to play for a school sponsored by Adidas.
Chuck Person, a 14-year NBA veteran, leads four current NCAA basketball coaches included in the list of suspects charged with fraud. Person, who starred for the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, and three other NBA teams before retiring in 2000, has been suspended without pay by Auburn University, where he serves as the associate head coach of the basketball team.
Also facing fraud are assistant coaches Anthony Bland of the University of Southern California, who played for the Syracuse Orangemen, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University, and Emanuel “Brock” Richardson of the University of Arizona.
Others named in the fraud complaint are Christian Dawkins, Munish Sood, Jonathan Brad, Merl Code Jr., Rashan Michel, and James Gatto.
Dawkins is a former NBA agent for ASM Sports who was once fired for the unauthorized use of a certain NBA player’s credit card. Dawkins racked up $42,000 in charges via Uber rides. Sood is the chief executive of Princeton Advisory Group, a financial advisory company.
Brad is an AAU director and president of The League Initiative while Code is a former player for the Clemson Tigers. Clemson is not involved in the investigation.
Michel, a former NBA referee, was also charged with fraud. Person allegedly used his influence to steer his players to buy from Michel’s Thompson BeSpoke Clothing, a made-to-order clothing company in Atlanta popular among NBA and NFL players.
James Gatto, who is the director for global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, was named as defendant in a separate complaint. Gatto is accused of bribing the families of high school players to play for a couple of schools sponsored by Adidas.
The University of Louisville was mentioned to be part of the investigation but no charges have been filed against individuals connected with the school. According to reports, an elite basketball prospect allegedly received $100,000 from an Adidas executive to join Louisville. Investigations showed that “Player-10” committed “almost immediately after the illicit bribe scheme.”
Andrew Das, of The New York Times, said via Twitter that the “Player-10” in question could be All-American forward Brian Bowen who committed in June. A written statement by Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino says he was shocked with the allegations against his school.
The other school with Adidas sponsorship is supposedly in Florida. According to court documents, the school has 16,000 students and 15 varsity sports.
The money supposedly flowed through the families of the student-athletes, the coaches, and other individuals who have vested interest or stand to gain monetary rewards and compensation connected with basketball. In other words, the schemes would determine where basketball prospects will play, who will be their agent or financial manager, and which brand of apparel they would wear.
The arrests were announced on September 26 by Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The FBI began probing the “dark underbelly of college basketball” in 2015. A former financial adviser agreed to help in the investigation by wearing a wire.
The FBI also raided the office of ASM Sports, a popular agency owned by Andy Miller, which has 30 current NBA clients including Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka. ASM Sports, however, was not included in the criminal complaints.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Adidas sent an email saying the company was “unaware of any misconduct and would fully cooperate with authorities to understand more.”
Some individuals were not surprised with the fraud charges. Jay Williams, an ESPN host and former NBA player who starred for Duke University, posted a video detailing how corruption has been part of the NCAA culture for some time now.
[Featured Image by Bebeto Matthews/AP Images]