FBI Arrests 4 NCAA Basketball Coaches Connected to Fraud and Corruption
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
The United States Department of Justice announced Tuesday that fraud and corruption charges have been brought against 10 people related to college basketball, including four coaches.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Arizona’s Emanuel Richardson and USC’s Tony Bland are the assistant coaches who have been charged.
The U.S. Department of Justice also announced that those charged include “managers, financial advisors, and representatives of a major international sportswear company.”
Per ESPN.com, it is alleged that the arrested coaches bribed recruits in an effort to steer them toward certain agents and financial advisors.
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement:
James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing at Adidas, was also charged Tuesday, per ESPN.
Adidas later released a statement, via Darren Rovell of ESPN, saying the company was “unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with the authorities to understand more.”
“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 criminal complaints stated, per ESPN.
The announcement of the charges also appears to reference the University of Louisville, describing “payments of $100,000 from a company to the family of an unnamed player to secure his commitment to the school, which is described as a public research university with enrollment of 22,640 located in Kentucky.”
Thomas Novelly of the Courier-Journal noted that the description matches Louisville’s enrollment figures.
Louisville would later confirm that its facing an investigation, per Jason Riley of WDRB.com:
Jason Riley @JasonRileyWDRB
Statement from U of L acknowledges school is under investigation “involving criminal activity” with basketball recruiting https://t.co/309Thh8Jge
Louisville coach Rick Pitino released a statement on the investigation, per William Joy of Wave 3 News:
William Joy @WilliamWAVE3
NEW: Here’s the statement from Rick Pitino. Says he’s shocked and blames “a few bad actors”. @wave3news https://t.co/0m80Rtu0LS
The Courier-Journal later noted that the player, identified as “Player 10,” was said to have committed to the school “on or about June 3, 2017.” The report noted the only prospect that fits that description is five-star recruit Brian Bowen.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Bowen’s mother Carrie Malecke, told the Courier-Journal. “I don’t know anything about that. I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea.”
“We have no idea about any of this stuff,” Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein told Novelly. “This is the first I’ve heard of it. Nobody in basketball is aware of any of this.”
In a press conference held after the charges were announced, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim discussed some specifics surrounding the case.
Per Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Kim said that reading the documents related to the case reveals the “dark underbelly of college basketball.”
At one point, Kim discussed an alleged conversation between a coach and a financial advisor, both of whom have been charged, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
US Atty: Charged asst coach: “I can … put them in the lap of (financial reps).” Charged finan adviser: “We can make millions off one kid.”
Kim also said the results of the probe are “not pretty” and that those involved were “circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes,” per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post.
According to Scout.com’s Jeff Rabjohns, Kim said money was secretly funneled to top recruits, and that it was upwards of $100,000 in some cases.
Kim called the bribes a “business investment” and noted that there was a great deal of money to be made by coaches and advisors if the players involved made it to the NBA, per Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal.
Evans was named Oklahoma State’s associate head coach in March after spending 2016-17 as the Cowboys’ assistant coach and recruiting coordinator and the previous four seasons as an assistant at South Carolina.
“We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials,” Oklahoma State said in a statement, via Mark Cooper of OSUSportsExtra.com. “We are reviewing and investigating the allegations. We are cooperating fully with officials. Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards.”
Oklahoma State later decided to suspend Evans with pay, per Cooper.
The 53-year-old Person is a 14-year NBA veteran who has been an assistant at Auburn under head coach Bruce Pearl since 2014 and is currently the Tigers’ associate head coach. Auburn announced in a statement, via Bryan Matthews of Rivals.com, it has suspended Person, calling the news “shocking,” adding the university is “saddened, angry and disappointed.”
Richardson is a longtime college basketball assistant who served under Sean Miller at Xavier from 2007 through 2009 before following him to Arizona.
Arizona has chosen to suspend Richardson in a press release provided by Brian Hamilton of The Fieldhouse.
Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star reported Richardson faces 60 years in jail and a fine of up to $1.5 million.
Bland played collegiately at Syracuse and San Diego State. He was an assistant coach for two seasons at San Diego State and has been USC’s associate head coach since 2014-15.
“We were shocked to learn this morning through news reports about the FBI investigation and arrest related to NCAA basketball programs, including the arrest of USC assistant coach Tony Bland,” USC athletic director Lynn Swann said in a statement. “USC Athletics maintains the highest standards in athletic compliance across all of our programs and does not tolerate misconduct in anyway. We will cooperate fully with the investigation and will assist authorities as needed, and if these allegations are true, will take the needed actions.”
USC’s Vice President of Athletic Compliance, Mike Blanton, released a statement noting the school will hire former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct an internal investigation.