OSU Coach Among Those Facing Federal Charges
Joon Kim, currently the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan today announced a wide reaching group of indictments aimed at curbing fraud and corruption in college basketball. Kim unsealed indictments of 10 individuals, including 4 college coaches and the director of global marketing for Adidas basketball, James Gatto.
Also among those indicted were Auburn University assistant coach Chuck Connors Person, University of Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel Richardson University of Southern California assistant coach Anthony “Tony” Bland and Oklahoma State Associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Lamont Evans, all named as defendants in the case.
According to the indictments, Gatto conspired with coaches on both the high school and college to pay players to attend schools whose programs were sponsored by Adidas. Authorities have evidence of payer's families receiving as much as $150,000 to attend Adidas sponsored institutions in Kentucky and Florida. The schools aren't indicated in court documents, but several sources following the case believe the schools are the U's of Louisville and Miami.
Sportswear brands fight vigorously to sponsor high-profile sports programs and players. The competition though is as lucrative as it is fierce. The NCAA prohibits endorsements deals for their athletes, but does allow gifts to the universities of gear and equipment, representing a major marketing win if a company can place its gear on a powerhouse program or star player.
The competition between sportswear brands for sponsorship of high-profile players and teams is fierce and lucrative. Though the league can’t pay athletes, and college players are not able to accept endorsements, placing gear on top talent is a significant marketing opportunity for the companies.
Other individuals named on court documents include Merl Code of Adidas, former NBA agent Christian Dawkins, president of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program, financial adviser Munish Sood and former NBA official Rishan Michel. The FBI stated in court filings that the charges are the results of an investigation that has been on-going since 2015.