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Four NCAA Basketball Coaches Charged with Corruption
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Summary: Ten people linked to NCAA basketball have been charged with fraud and corruption for taking part in a scheme to influence NBA-destined players.

Federal corruption charges have been brought down on four assistant basketball coaches, managers, financial advisers, and representatives from an international sportswear clothing company. Ten people in total were charged. The coaches were from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California.


The authorities claim that the coaches were caught accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for pointing their NBA-destined players towards specific sports agents and financial advisers. The court documents named coaches Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel “Book” Richardson of Arizona, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, and Tony Bland of USC.

Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said, “The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one. Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs soliciting and accepting cash bribes. Managers and financial advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes. And employees of one of the world’s largest sportswear companies secretly funneling cash to the families of high school recruits. For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. Month after month, defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”

Auburn released a statement noting that Person has been suspended without pay. “This morning’s new is shocking. … We are committed to playing by the rules, and that’s what we expect from our coaches.”

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The others included in the court documents are Munish Sood, a financial adviser; James Gotto, director of global sports marketing at Adidas; Merl Code, who recently left Nike for Adidas; Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program; Rashan Michel, former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing; and Christian Dawkins, an NBA agent recently fired from ASM Sports for charging around $42,000 in Uber charges to a player’s credit card.

The scheme came to light when Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III, a former Pittsburgh financial adviser, was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of stealing $2.35 million from five clients. Acting as a cooperating witness, Blazer helped the FBI in their investigation.

The FBI complaint references a “public research university in Kentucky,” which interim president Gregory Postel of the University of Louisville confirmed was their school. He said in a statement, “Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting. While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated. We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter.”

The allegations involving the school, identified in the complaint as “University-6,” include receipt of payments of $100,000 from a sports apparel company to the family of “Player-10,” an unnamed player. These payments were to ensure the player signed with the school.

FBI agent John Vourderis provided a sworn a statement, which stated, “I have learned that in or around May of 2017, at the request of at least one coach from University-6, Dawkins, James Gatto, aka “Jim,” Merl Code, Munish Sood, the defendants, and other agree to funnel $100,000 (payable in four installments) from Company-1 to the family of Player-10. Shortly after the agreement with the family of Player-10 was reached in late May or early June, Player-10 publicly committed to University-6.”

The defendants funneled this money by “generating a sham purchase order and invoice ostensibly to justify using Company-1 funds since they could not lawfully pay the family of Player-10 directly and risk that such prohibited payments be revealed.”

The player is believed to be Brian Bowen, who signed with Louisville on June 5.

The investigation uncovered a number of instances where bribes were made by athlete advisers such as financial advisers and associate coaches to other coaches that would be able to use their power and influence over student-athletes. The complaint states, “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.”

It continued, “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.”

Investigators believe Gatto, Code, Dawkins, Augustine, and Sood made bribes to at least three high school players and their families.

Do you think it is a common practice for star athletes to receive financial and other gifts as bribes? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about legal problems within the NCAA, read these articles:




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