September 26, 2017
NEW YORK (ESPN) — Federal prosecutors have announced charges of fraud and corruption against 10 people involved in college basketball, including assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and USC.
The coaches named in court documents are Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Arizona’s Book Richardson and USC’s Tony Bland. It was not immediately clear who would represent them at initial court appearances.
Other people charged in Manhattan federal court included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major international sportswear company. The details were to be discussed at a news conference Tuesday at noon ET.
Other people named in the documents include James Gatto, director of global sports marketing at Adidas; Merl Code, who recently left Nike for Adidas; Christian Dawkins, an NBA agent who was recently fired from ASM Sports for charging approximately $42,000 in Uber charges on a player’s credit card; Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program; Munish Sood, a financial adviser; and Rashan Michel, a former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a custom clothier for athletes.
Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA, federal authorities said.
They said the probe has revealed numerous instances in which bribes were paid by athlete advisers, including financial advisers and associate basketball coaches, to assistant and associate basketball coaches to exert influence over student-athletes so the athletes would retain the services of those paying the bribes.
In criminal complaints, investigators said basketball coaches have the ability to provide access to the student-athletes to sports agents, financial advisers, business managers and others.
“Moreover, many such coaches have enormous influence over the student-athletes who play for them, in particular with respect to guiding those student-athletes through the process of selecting agents and other advisers when they prepare to leave college and enter the NBA,” the complaints said.
“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the papers said.
Court documents state that Gatto, Code, Dawkins, Augustine and Sood were “making and concealing bribe payments to high school student-athletes and/or their families in exchange for, among the other things, the student-athletes’ commitment to play basketball for University-6 and University-7, thereby causing the universities to provide athletic scholarships to student-athletes who, in truth and in fact, were ineligible to compete as a result of the bribe payments.”
The universities are not explicitly named in the document.
Documents also state that Michel offered Person $50,000 in bribe payments “in exchange for using his official position at University-1 to steer student-athletes on University-1’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball team to retain the services of CW-1 and Michel.”
According to court documents, Evans, Richardson and Bland all allegedly received benefits from Dawkins and Sood to influence student-athletes to retain their services
Information from ESPN’s Jeff Borzello and The Associated Press was used in this report.