In a moment that seemed as if it was straight out of a scene of the 1994 film Blue Chips, ten people were arrested including four college basketball coaches, an Adidas executive and others were arrested on Tuesday as part of an FBI NCAA bribery investigation that began in 2015.
According to reports, the executive and other defendants reportedly spent between $100,000 and $150,000 of Adidas‘ funds to bribe two high schoolers to play at Adidas-sponsored universities — likely the University of Louisville and the University of Miami. The payments were legit as far as Adidas knew, but “not on the books for what it’s actually for,” per a defendant according to court filings.
The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that Jim Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, had been arrested along with nine college assistant coaches, managers, and financial advisers.
In one of three complaints filed, Gatto and four other defendants have been charged with “making and concealing bribe payments” to high-school student athletes and/or their families. Two other defendants are also linked to Adidas — Merl Code, a business affiliate of Adidas, and Jonathan Brad Augustine, the program director of an Adidas-sponsored teen basketball team.
In one instance, Gatto and the other defendants are accused of funneling $100,000 to the family of a high-school basketball player to persuade the player to sign with an unnamed public research university in Kentucky.
In another case, Gatto and the other defendants are accused of agreeing to make payments of up to $150,000 from Adidas to persuade a player to join another team sponsored by the apparel company, according to filings.
Assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, USC, and Oklahoma State have been accused to taking thousands of dollars in bribes to pressure NCAA athletes to hire certain financial advisers, business managers and high-end suit makers.
Christian Dawkins, a former sports agent who was reportedly fired in May after allegedly charging $42,000 in Uber rides on an NBA player’s credit card. Gatto and other defendants are accused of using apparent payments to the nonprofits as a way to conceal bribes paid to players and their families.
The assistant coaches named as defendants in the cases are Anthony “Tony” Bland of USC, Chuck Connors Person of Auburn – a former NBA player, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, and Emmanuel Richardson of Arizona. The coaches allegedly took bribes from financial advisors and business managers in exchange for pressuring student athletes to hire the individuals.
What has been clear for years, this is something that is a problem across the board with NCAA sports, but the question remains, will the colleges be held responsible for their part? Or just the low men on the totem pole taking the heat?