Sunday, June 16, 2024

Four NCAA Basketball Coaches Charged With Taking Bribes

From left, Tony Bland, Emanuel Richardson, Lamont Evans and Chuck Person. AP; Getty Images
From left, Tony Bland, Emanuel Richardson, Lamont Evans and Chuck Person. AP; Getty Images

*A federal investigation into the “pay to play” world of college basketball has exposed bribery schemes in which coaches at top programs took cash to steer star athletes to certain managers and helped funnel payoffs to players’ families to ensure they signed with particular schools, prosecutors revealed Tuesday.

The probe began in 2015 with the help of a financial adviser who agreed to wear a wire for the feds and two undercover agents, according to NBC News. Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said the FBI and prosecutors set out to investigate the “dark underbelly of college basketball” and found a pay-to-play culture flourishing.

“If we take care of everybody and everything is done, we control everything,” Christian Dawkins, a sports agency recruiter, told one of the undercover agents, according to a complaint. “You can make millions off one kid.”

The four assistant coaches accused of taking bribes of between $13,000 and $100,000 to convince players to hire Dawkins and other advisers were identified as Chuck Person of Auburn University, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University, Emanuel Richardson or Arizona University, and Anthony Bland of the University of Southern California.

Three criminal complaints filed in Manhattan detail a web of corruption in which money allegedly flowed between athletes’ families, coaches, and others with a financial interest in basketball — with the goal of locking in where young athletes would play, who would represent them and what clothing they would wear.

Also arrested was James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for Adidas, who was accused of paying the families of high-school standouts to sign with two universities that had sponsorship deals with the apparel giant. The court documents don’t name the colleges, but describe one as a public research university in Kentucky with 22,640 students and 21 varsity teams. That matches the description of University of Louisville, according to NBC News. The other is described as a private research university in Florida with 16,000 students and 15 varsity sports, which matches up with the University of Miami.

After the charges were announced, Adidas said it had just learned of Gatto’s arrest. “We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more,” the company said in a statement.

Auburn said it had suspended Person, saying in a statement that “we are saddened, angry and disappointed.” USC said it was “shocked” to hear of Bland’s arrest and “does not tolerate misconduct in any way.” Oklahoma State said it was “surprised” to hear of Evans’ arrest and is “cooperating fully with officials.”

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