Feds Accuse Adidas Execs Of Bribing NCAA Basketball Players & Coaches

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Basketball coaches at some of the country’s biggest names in college athletics, and executives at one of the biggest names in athletic apparel, now face federal charges involving allegations that schools and student athletes were getting paid to lock players into deals with financial advisers, endorsers, and even tailors.

The indictments — against assistant basketball coaches at the University of Southern California, the University of Arizona, Auburn University, and Oklahoma State University — were unsealed today by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The first indictment [PDF] accuses USC’s Tony Bland, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, and Emanuel Richardson of Arizona of each accepting bribes — ranging from $500 to $15,000 — from two co-defendants: a business manager named Christian Dawkins, and financial adviser Munish Sood. According to prosecutors, the coaches accepted this money with the understanding that they would then steer certain players and/or their families into meetings with Dawkins and Sood.

A second indictment [PDF] then links Sood and Dawkins to Adidas marketing executive Jim Gatto and his colleague Merl Code, who are accused of conspiring with colleges that are sponsored by the international athletic gear company. According to the complaint, Adidas would funnel money through the schools to make payments to top high school basketball players in order to recruit them to that Adidas-backed college, and the school would then encourage their top players to sign on with Adidas when they eventually joined the NBA. Dawkins and Sood were allegedly involved in brokering these deals with the schools and players.

Unlike the alleged bribes to the basketball coaches, which were relatively small dollar amounts compared to the volume of money floating around NCAA basketball, the alleged payments from Adidas to some families were quite substantial. The indictment claims that the Adidas execs, through Dawkins and Sood, secretly paid high school players as much as $150,000 each to sign on to schools sponsored by the company.

The final indictment [PDF] involves allegations against Auburn assistant coach, and former NBA Rookie of the Year, Chuck Person, and former NBA official Rashan Michel. Per the complaint, Person accepted at least $65,000 in payments to steer his players toward specific service providers, including Michel, who now owns a men’s clothing boutique selling bespoke apparel. Person is also accused of taking payments in exchange for trying to push players and their families to accept the services of a financial adviser.

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