NEW YORK: Four top US university basketball coaches and a senior Adidas executive were arrested and charged with corruption and fraud Tuesday in a sprawling scandal over player recruitment and gear sponsorship bribes.
Federal prosecutors in New York bared what they called the “dark underbelly of college basketball,” with six-figure payoffs to teenage players made through a charity and other vehicles, and bribes and commissions paid in restaurants with envelopes stuffed with hundred-dollar bills.
Felony charges were unveiled against a total of 10 people in the case that reveals the seedy underside of the multibillion-dollar business of ostensibly amateur high school and college basketball in the United States.
All those charged have been arrested, officials say.
The three overlapping indictments, based on the work of a confidential informant and undercover agents, showed coaches, agents and financial advisors plotting greedily to lock in chunks of talented young athletes’ future career incomes.
“If we take care of everybody, we control everything, you can make millions off of one kid,” Christian Dawkins, a sports agent charged in the scheme, was recorded as saying.
University of Arizona’s Emmanuel Richardson, Auburn University’s Chuck Person, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State and Tony Bland of University of Southern California were the NCAA coaches charged after a two-year FBI investigation.
All are assistant coaches involved in recruiting at top-level college basketball programs which feed players to the NBA where they can earn millions of dollars in their first year as a pro.
Two people from Adidas were charged: senior executive James Gatto, the company’s director of global sports marketing for basketball, and Merl Code.
The others included the Adidas-sponsored head of Central Florida Basketball Academy — one of the country’s leading programs for pre-college players — a clothier who makes suits for some of the country’s leading athletes and financial advisors to players.
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