The FBI has just charged and arrested four NCAA assistant basketball coaches for fraud, along with six other individuals, which are managers, financial advisers and representatives of a sportswear companies, USA Today reports.
According to ESPN, those arrested include: Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans and Southern California assistant Tony Bland. The other six individuals listed on the court documents include: James Gatto (director of global sports marketing for Adidas), Merl Code (who left Nike for Adidas), Christian Dawkins (an NBA agent who was fired from ASM Sports for reportedly charging $42,000 to a player's credit card for Uber fees), Jonathan Brad Augustine (The League Initiative president and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program), Munish Sood (a financial adviser), and Rishan Michel (former NBA official and founder of Thompson Bespoke).
The court documents released show that the FBI and U.S. Attorney have been investigating the fraud and corruption scheme of bribing future potential student athletes to use the services of those paying off the student athletes since 2015, USA Today reports.
BREAKING NEWS / NBC: The FBI has arrested several NCAA asst. basketball coaches in a corruption scheme. Presser @ 12n with U.S. Attorney
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) September 26, 2017
Among the several allegations, according to ESPN, is a payment of approximately $100,000 from a sports apparel company to a potential student athlete’s family to ensure that the student (identified as Player-10) would sign with an unnamed Kentucky university (identified as University-6), which has been alleged to be the University of Louisville.
FBI agent John Vourderis said in a statement regarding the $100,000 payment, “I have learned that in or around May of 2017, at the request of at least once coach from University-6, Dawkins, James Gatto, a/k/a “Jim,” Merl Code, Munish Sood, the defendants, and other agreed to funnel $100,000 (payable in four installments) from Company-1 to the family of Player-10. Shortly after the agreement with the family of Player-10 was reached in late May or early June, Player-10 publicly committed to University-6.”
Other allegations include a financial advisor giving Auburn coach Person nearly $91,500 over a 10-month period so Person would direct Auburn basketball players to acquire the financial advisors services upon their entering into the NBA, USA Today reports. Furthermore, it was alleged that Gato, Code, Augustine and Sod paid a potential student athlete approximately $150,000 to play basketball at a certain school in exchange for the athlete acquiring Dawkins’ services and signing with Adidas when the athlete joined the NBA.
“We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials,” Oklahoma State said in response to allegations, according to ESPN. “We are reviewing and investigating the allegations. We are cooperating fully with officials. Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards.”
USC athletic director Lynn Swann said, “We were shocked to learn this morning through news reports about the FBI investigation and arrests related to NCAA basketball programs, including the arrest of USC assistant coach Tony Bland. USC Athletics maintains the highest standards in athletic compliance across all of our programs and does not tolerate misconduct in any way. We will fully cooperate with the investigation and will assist authorities as needed, and if these allegations are true, we will take the needed action.”
Adidas, reportedly unaware of Gatto actually bribing potential student athletes, released a statement on Tuesday saying, “Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee. We are learning more about the situation. We're unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more,” ESPN reports.
Joon H. Kim, U.S. Attorney, said, according to ESPN, in a news conference on Tuesday, “For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”