FBI cracks college bribery ring
NEW YORK (AP):
In one of the biggest crackdowns on the corrupting role of money in college basketball, 10 men - including a top Adidas executive and four assistant coaches - were charged yesterday with using hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes' choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents, even tailors.
Some of the most explosive allegations appeared to involve Louisville, one of college basketball's biggest powerhouses.
Court papers say at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as US$150,000 - using money supplied by Adidas - to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic clothing company. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.
"The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one," said acting US Attorney Joon H. Kim, adding that the defendants were "circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes" and "exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country" to enrich themselves.
Federal prosecutors said that while some of the bribe money went straight to athletes and their families, some of it went to coaches, to get them to use their influence over their potentially NBA-bound players.
The coaches charged are Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of Southern California and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. Person and Evans were immediately suspended.
Those charged also include James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas; Rashan Michel, a maker of custom suits for some of the NBA's biggest stars; and various financial advisers and managers.
NCAA President Mark Emmert condemned the alleged misconduct, saying in a statement, "Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families, and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust."
Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA. Kim noted that a special FBI hotline has been set up and invited anyone aware of additional corruption to come forward.