NCAA Coaches, Adidas Executive Arrested in Bribery Scandal
A story of bribery and fraud is all over the news headlines this week, as 10 people were charged in a federal corruption investigation. According to ESPN, the three-year FBI probe has focused on coaches being paid to steer potential NBA players toward particular sports agents, financial advisors and apparel companies.
So far, four NCAA assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California were charged yesterday morning. The coaches are charged with bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Travel Act conspiracy. According to ESPN, each of the coaches faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.
The FBI also arrested James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for Adidas; Merl Code, another Adidas employee; Christian Dawkins, a former NBA agent; Munish Sood, a financial advisor; Jonathan Brand Augustine, president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program; and Rashan Michel, a former NBA official with a custom clothing line for athletes.
"For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March," said Joon H. Kim, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during a Tuesday news conference. "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."
(We must say, that statement sounded a lot like something David Caruso would say on CSI, but we get the picture.)
The FBI has documentation to support its claims thanks to wiretaps, surveillance video, undercover agents and witnesses, and it looks like these coaches definitely pressured their athletes into making specific decisions, including signing players to Adidas-sponsored schools, and then subsequently signing with Adidas once they turned pro.
This is a pretty crazy story. We'll keep you updated as the legal proceedings continue.