WASHINGTON - Ten people — including four coaches, a top executive at Adidas, business managers and financial advisors — have been charged with "fraud and corruption in U.S. college basketball," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.
Court papers show three criminal complaints detailing various fraud schemes, and some defendants reportedly are named in multiple complaints.
Federal authorities said that since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in college basketball under the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA.
The probe has uncovered many instances in which bribes were paid by advisers to athletes, including financial advisers and coaches, in return for the players' services.
Four coaches named
The four coaches facing charges are Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Chuck Person of Auburn University, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University and Tony Bland of the University of Southern California. They allegedly accepted financial bribes in exchange for guiding players toward business executives, including Adidas sports marketing head Jim Gatto and Princeton Capital Corporation CEO Munish Sood.
Also charged were Adidas employee Merl Code, who allegedly assisted Gatto in the scheme. The complaints said financial bribes were brokered by Jonathan Brand Augustine, who operates an Adidas-sponsored Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, business manager Christian Dawkins and Sood. The payments were agreed to on the condition that the athletes sign contracts with Dawkins and Sood once they became professional players.
The complaint alleges the brokers agreed to pay $100,000 to the family of one player and $150,000 to the family of another student-athlete. The schools were not named in the complaint, but one was described as "a public research university located in Kentucky" with a student enrollment of about 22,640. The other school was characterized as "a private research university located in Florida" with some 16,000 students.
Top recruit paid $100,000?
The indictment also said the alleged conspirators paid one top recruit $100,000 to enroll at the University of Kentucky. The payments were structured with aim of concealing them from both the university and the NCAA, but the indictment said the payments were requested by “at least one coach” on the school's staff.
At a Tuesday news conference, Acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Joon Kim said the case has exposed “the dark underbelly of college basketball” and that the coaches exploited the “trust of the players they coached and recruited.”
Adidas said in a statement: “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.”
Oklahoma State 'surprised'
Oklahoma State issued a statement that said: “We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials. 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.”
Kim said the assistant coaches named in the indictment were expected to appear in courts later Tuesday to face the charges.