NCAA Bribery Scandal Rocks College Basketball

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The Department of Justice announced Tuesday the arrests of assistant basketball coaches at NCAA colleges of Arizona, Oklahoma State, Auburn and USC for fraud and corruption.

This is no garden-variety NCAA offense; this is Federal. The DOJ investigation, which has been in progress since 2015, is led by the FBI and US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Three separate complaints have been filed.

To date, FBI arrests include Arizona coach Emanuel Richardson, Oklahoma State coach Lamont Evans, Auburn coach Chuck Person and USC coach Tony Bland, all who have been charged for taking thousands of dollars in bribes to pressure NCAA athletes to hire certain financial advisers and business managers.

News reports also say the FBI arrests include officials from Adidas and Nike who are charged with “making and concealing bribe payments” to high school athletes and/or the families.

Adidas director of global sports marketing for basketball Jim Gatto is accused of conspiring to persuade high school student-athletes to play at universities sponsored by the sportswear brand. Gatto and four other defendants have been charged with “making and concealing bribe payments” to the students and/or their families. Other defendants include Jonathan Brad Augustine, the president of the nonprofit The League Initiative; Merl Code, the head of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League as of 2013; and Christian Dawkins, a former sports agent who was reportedly fired in May after being found to have charged $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.

FBI agents issued a stern warning to other coaches who may have participated in the same pay-for-play culture: “Today’s arrests should serve as a warning… We have your playbook.”

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