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College coaches and Adidas executive charged with bribery scheme

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Sport and business   The arrest of 10 individuals

Four college basketball coaches, an ex-NBA referee and a top executive at Adidas have been charged in a bribery scheme that will expose “fraud and corruption in college basketball,” federal prosecutors announced.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the arrest of 10 individuals, including four Division I NCAA men’s basketball coaches and a senior executive at a major athletic apparel company in connection with two related fraud and corruption schemes.

In the first scheme, as alleged in the three Complaints unsealed today, college basketball coaches took cash bribes from athlete advisors, including business managers and financial advisors, in exchange for using their influence over college players under their control to pressure and direct those players and their families to retain the services of the advisors paying the bribes.

In the second scheme, a senior executive at Company-1, working in connection with corrupt advisors, funneled bribe payments to high school-aged players and their families to secure those players’ commitments to attend universities sponsored by Company-1, rather than universities sponsored by rival athletic apparel companies.

The three Complaints unsealed today charge four coaches, Chuck Connors Person, Lamont Evans, Emanuel Richardson, a/k/a “Book,” and Anthony Bland, a/k/a “Tony”; three athlete advisors, Christian Dawkins, Munish Sood, and Rashan Michel; a senior executive at the company, James Gatto, a/k/a “Jim,” along with two individuals affiliated with Company-1 (Adidas), Merl Code and Jonathan Brad Augustine, with wire fraud, bribery, travel act, and conspiracy offenses.

The defendants were all arrested this morning in various parts of the country. Dawkins, Sood, and Augustine are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate James L. Cott in federal court later today.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “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.

“For the ten charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. 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 defendants’ alleged criminal conduct not only sullied the spirit of amateur athletics, but showed contempt for the thousands of players and coaches who follow the rules, and play the game the right way.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Today’s charges detail a corrupt practice in which highly rated high school and college basketball players were steered toward lucrative business deals with agents, advisors, and an international athletics apparel company.

“As alleged, NCAA Division I and AAU coaches created a pay-to-play culture, agreeing to provide access to their most valuable players while also effectively exerting their influence over them.

“Today’s arrests should also serve as a warning to those who conduct business this way in the world of college athletics.”

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