Alex Raskin, Daily Mail, September 26, 2017
While announcing an ongoing investigation on Tuesday, the FBI and Justice Department vowed to clean up college basketball after arresting 10 men – including several assistant college basketball coaches and an Adidas representative – involved in an alleged corruption and bribery scheme.
Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC, and Auburn University’s Chuck Person – a former NBA player – are the four coaches charged in the corruption scheme, according to court documents.
According to acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan Jim Koon, the investigation was launched in 2015 and focuses on ‘the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the N.C.A.A.’ Specifically, two schemes were investigated: one in which recruits and their families were paid to go to particular universities and another in which player advisors were paid to persuade those players to sign with certain managers, agents, and financial advisors.
Koon went on to say that the investigation into the 10 men exposed ‘the dark underbelly of college basketball,’ adding that the coaches exploited the ‘trust of the players they coached and recruited.’
‘The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one – coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisors circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits,’ Koon said.
‘For the ten charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,’ he continued. ‘Month after month, the defendants allegedly exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.’
The investigation is ongoing.
‘We have your playbook,’ New York FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said during a Manhattan news conference. ‘Our investigation is ongoing and we are conducting additional interviews as we speak.’
The filing claims that the investigation revealed ‘numerous instances’ of athlete advisors bribing assistant coaches and student athletes at top basketball schools in order to persuade those players to sign with various agents after turning professional. Top high school recruits and their families were also bribed so as to push them towards particular schools, although the filing does not name any university specifically.
An undercover agent connected with the investigation claimed that Gatto told other defendants that the bribes were on his company’s books, but were not allocated honestly.
The FBI and Justice Department are both seeking tips from sources, and Koon emphasized that anyone involved would do better to turn themselves in.
‘I think it’s better for you to call us than for us to call you when we’re ready to charge you,’ he said.