Accusations of bribery and kickbacks have rocked the NCAA basketball world again. The U.S department of Justice recently revealed that a group that includes at least 4 assistant Division I basketball coaches, managers, financial advisers, and an executive from the ADIDAS company, have taken part in a potentially wide-ranging corruption scandal. The first shot was fired in the Federal governments case against NCAA Division I corruption.
ESPN.com states that among those named in the case are NCAA Division I assistant coaches:
- Chuck Person- Auburn
- Lamont Evans-Oklohoma State
- Emanuel Richardson-Arizona
- Tony Bland-USC
Others named were:
- James Gatto-Adidas
- Merl Code-ADIDAS
- Christian Dawkins-Former NBA Agent
- Jonathan Brad Augustine-president of The League Initiative
- Munish Sood-Financial adviser
- Rashan Michel-Former NBA official and entrepreneur
The U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York has implied that this FBI crackdown is two years in the making. They have employed numerous methods to gauge the influence of illegal contributions on NCAA Basketball players and coaches since 2015. This marks the first time that the federal government has intervened in NCAA corruption cases.
The Investigation of NCAA Division I Basketball
The investigation revealed multiple incidents of bribes paid by advisers directly to players or to coaches of NCAA Division I basketball teams. These bribes were meant to influence players to sign with specific representation companies or to influence their choice of school to attend. The assistant coaches were used to convince players to go along with the illegal activities.
The indictment does not name specific players but it alleges that in one situation the family of ‘Player 10’ was paid approximately $100,000 to attend a school. The Kentucky area school was not named but the NY Times reports that their enrollment numbers suggest that it may be Louisville. The same university that recently signed a 10 year, $160 million apparel deal with Adidas.
Allegedly this has occurred multiple other times with prospective High school seniors and at least once with a student who had not yet begun 11th grade.
Emerging details state that Auburn’s Chuck Person accepted a total of $91,500. The indictment alleges that he is also responsible for the transfer of about $18,000 to the families of two athletes. Person faces bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and travel act conspiracy charges.
The other 3 assistant coaches (Lamont Evans, Tony Bland, And Emanuel Richardson) face solicitation of bribery charges for steering players to certain agents. No head coaches were named in the indictment. According to an insider this is because their large salaries make them unlikely to accept bribes. Assistant coaches are seen to be the best avenue for criminals to enter NCAA Basketball.
Officials from all three involved Universities state that the institutions had no knowledge of illegal activity and will cooperate fully with the investigation.
NCAA Sponsor Also Named
The indictment names several ADIDAS employees, it is unknown if the entire organization is involved, though they deny any knowledge. The complaint alleges that Jim Gatto, Adidas’ head of sports marketing, paid young recruits to attend Adidas sponsored schools and then sign with Adidas when they turn pro. Merl Code, another Adidas employee, is accused of assisting Gatto in carrying out these bribes. Business manager Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood are accused of brokering these deals with the expectation of these athletes signing with them upon turning professional.
The FBI crackdown included surveillance and tapped cell-phone calls that revealed the accused’s effort to shield their activities from both the schools and the NCAA. They also revealed a money laundering plot that was intended to hide the source of the funds.
The FBI also obtained video evidence in which an NCAA coach handed a cash stuffed envelope, reportedly containing $12,700, to a recruit in a clandestine hotel meeting. Undercover, Federal, agents were used to uncover the alleged illegal activities. The indictment alleges that further wiretaps revealed more plots to influence future recruits in the same manner.
The entire investigation was sparked by an inside source who agreed to become a cooperating witness. In order to avoid facing charges himself he offered to shed light on the insidious corruption and kickbacks that are present in the college basketball world.
The possible scope of this investigation is still unknown. There is no proof that schools or head coaches were involved and the investigation is still unfolding.
Division I Sports Has a History of Problems
This scandal is the latest in an unfortunate history of corruption in Division I college sports.
Division I basketball history is dotted with incidents that insult the integrity of the game. Boston College, Tulane, and Northwestern have all been rocked by point shaving scandals in the past. Academic fraud cases have also run rampant in college basketball throughout its history.
Louisville’s basketball program is currently under investigation for multiple parties in which escorts were used to influence visiting recruits. As well as their use of ineligible players during their 2013 championship run. During the summer the NCAA released their findings and suspended head coach, Rick Pitino for 5 games. They will also be forced to vacate several wins, possibly including their 2013 National Championship.
The most recent college basketball scandal is still unfolding and there is no telling how deep this corruption goes.
This world of corruption is revealing the moral decaying of Division I college sports. Whenever there is large amounts of money involved in any endeavor corruption will grow and often thrive. Morally bankrupt individuals will find a way in and find a way to reap illegal gains.
Is Division III a Better Choice for Top Athletes?
This is yet another reason why some of the best athletes should consider attending a Division III school. These schools still focus on education and keep athletics in their proper perspective.
Division III sports do not suffer from these same issues and provide college athletes with a better learning opportunity. They also provide an overall better college experience; a chance to have a social, academic, AND athletic life. These schools do not depend on athletic programs to provide income and players are allowed to grow without outside financial influences weighing them down.