D-I Basketball Coaches Indicted in Adidas Bribe Scheme

The Justice Department has unsealed indictments against four Division I basketball assistant coaches for accepting bribes to influence student-athletes in ways that benefited executives at shoe-and-apparel manufacturer Adidas.

A news conference was scheduled for noon in New York City.

According to The Washington Post, the assistant coaches named in the indictments are Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University, Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona and Tony Bland of the University of Southern California.

“The complaint alleges that Jim Gatto, the head of sports marketing at Adidas, paid recruits to sign with Adidas-sponsored schools and then sign with Adidas once they turned professional,” the Post reports. “He was assisted in this scheme by Merl Code, another Adidas employee, according to the complaint. The payments were brokered by three men: Christian Dawkins, a business manager; Munish Sood, a financial adviser; and Jonathan Brand Augustine, who runs an Adidas-sponsored AAU basketball team. The payments were made with the promise that the players sign agreements with Dawkins and Sood once they turned professional.”

Families of players were paid as much as $150,000, according to the Post.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney have reportedly been investigating the matter since 2015. 

In addition to sportswear, the corruption charges reached sports agents and financial advisers. The complaint, which is viewable here, alleges that “Person agreed to and did receive bribe payments” and “in exchange agreed to and did exercise his influence as a coach (at Auburn) to persuade and pressure student-athletes and their families to retain the services” of who he believed to be a financial advisor. That person was, however, a cooperating witness for the government.

By early afternoon Tuesday, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued the following statement: "The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing. We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation."

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