NCAA coaches arrested in massive recruitment payola scheme

Coaches allegedly steered young rising players into clothing contracts and financial advisory deals

By Charlie May
Published September 26, 2017 3:51PM (EDT)
 (Getty/Ronald Martinez)
(Getty/Ronald Martinez)

Four assistant coaches at some of the nation's top college basketball programs were among the 10 total people arrested by the FBI for fraud, bribery and conspiracy, as well as other corruption charges, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

The coaches allegedly took thousands of dollars in bribes for steering young star athletes "to powerhouse schools and into clothing contracts and financial advisory deals," according to Bloomberg News. Among those involved were Auburn's Chuck Person, Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans, Arizona's Emanuel Richardson and USC's Tony Bland. Person was a former NBA star and served as associate head coach at Auburn University, Bloomberg reported. The FBI used undercover agents and secretly recorded conversations to aid their investigation.

The six others also charged included managers, financial advisers and representatives of major international sportswear companies including Adidas. "Part of the case is built on allegations that an executive at a global apparel company bribed students — and their families — to attend universities where the company sponsored athletic programs," Bloomberg reported.

"Prosecutors also allege that business managers and financial advisers illegally paid coaches to steer student athletes to them to manage their fortunes once they turned professional," according to Bloomberg.

A spokeswoman for Adidas said that they had been unaware of misconduct and that the company intended to cooperate with authorities: "Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee. We are learning more about the situation. We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more."

"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," one complaint read, Bloomberg reported.

"Month after month, the 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," Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to ESPN.


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