Four college basketball assistant coaches hit with federal fraud, corruption charges – CBSSports.com
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced early Tuesday that charges of fraud and corruption have been brought against four current college basketball assistant coaches — Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland. Managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major sportswear company have also been charged with federal crimes in a scandal that has rocked the sport.
“The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits. … 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.”
The four basketball coaches were arrested late Monday.
Among other things, Person is accused of accepting payments from an agent who was trying to development a business relationship with some of Auburn’s players — including Austin Wiley. Richardson, Evans and Bland are accused of similar crimes. According to documents, Richardson was also caught on a wiretap discussing using money to recruit a prospect for Arizona.
Auburn suspended Person without pay Tuesday afternoon.
Jim Gatto, director of global sports marketing at Adidas, was among those arrested. He’s accused of helping funnel approximately $100,000 to the family of an “All-American high school basketball player” to secure the prospect’s commitment to a school Adidas sponsors. According to documents, the prospect committed in June. The only “All-American high school basketball player” who committed to a school Adidas sponsors in June is Brian Bowen. He’s now enrolled at Louisville.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino was asked about Bowen’s commitment in June.
“We got lucky on this one,” Pitino said. “I had an AAU director call me and say, ‘Would you be interested in a basketball player?’ I said … ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ But [Bowen and his people] had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotels, pay for their meals. So we spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40-some-odd years of coaching, this is the luckiest I’ve been.”
NBA agent Christian Dawkins was among those arrested. According to documents, he told an unidentified Louisville coach they would have to be “particularly careful” with how they passed money to Bowen and his family because Louisville was already on probation. The Louisville coach agreed, according to documents, and said, “We gotta be very low key.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” Bowen’s mother, Carrie Malecke, told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday. “I don’t know anything about that. I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea.”
Louisville’s interim president, Gregory Postel, acknowledged Tuesday afternoon that his school has received notice that it is included in a federal investigation “involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting.” He added: “While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated. We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter.”
The USAO described the investigation as such: “Since 2015, the FBI and USAO have been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA. As relevant here, the investigation has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid by athletic advisors, including financial advisors and business managers, among others, to assistant and associate basketball coaches employed by NCAA Division I universities as facilitated by the coaches, in exchange for those coaches exerting influence over student-athletes under their control to retain the services of the bribe-payers once the athletes enter the National Basketball Association.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott released a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“I am deeply troubled by the charges filed in federal court today against a number of individuals involved in college basketball — including two assistant coaches employed by member institutions of our conference,” Scott said. “Protection of our student-athletes, and of the integrity of competition, is the conference’s top priority. I have been in contact with the leadership of both universities and it is clear they also take this matter very seriously. We are still learning the facts of this matter. But these allegations, if true, are profoundly upsetting to me. They strike at the heart of the integrity of our programs.”
CBS Sports will be updating this breaking news story.
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