Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Auburn assistant, Adidas director among 10 targeted by FBI in fraud scheme

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday four notable NCAA basketball coaches from top college programs and a director from Adidas are among 10 arrested by the FBI for participating in bribing high school students and their parents to commit to certain programs and agents.

At a news conference Tuesday, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim revealed coaches at some of the nations top programs solicited and accepted cash bribes from managers and financial advisors in exchange for directing families and players to the universities and bribers. 

Kim said managers and advisors also worked together with Adidas, the sportswear company in question, to give up to $100,000 to families of the country's top prospects in exchange for the players' commitments to the schools the company sponsored.

"For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March," Kim said, according to ESPN. "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."

Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person, Oklahoma State associate head coach Lamont Evans, Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson and USC coach Anthony "Tony" Bland were the coaches arrested.

Person, a former Auburn player and fourth overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, was immediately suspended without pay, according to Auburn.

"This morning's news is shocking..." Auburn said in a statement. "We are committed to playing by the rules, and that's what we expect from our coaches. In the meantime, Auburn is working closely with law enforcement, and we will help them in their investigation in any way we can."

USC said Bland is on "immediate administrative leave" and pledged the University's full cooperation.

Oklahoma State said it was surprised to hear of the news and said the University "will not tolerate any deviation" from the high standards of conduct expected from the athletic department.

Three others arrested were are associated with professional managers and advisors while the final three had ties to Adidas.

Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto, was one of the three tied to Adidas who was arrested and accused of paying high school recruits and/or their families.

"Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee,” Adidas said in a statement. “We are learning more about the situation. We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more," a statement from Adidas said.

The FBI complaint doesn’t name the colleges investigated, but doesn include information about a “public research university” in Kentucky, which was confirmed to be the University of Louisville, according to interim president Gregory Postel. 

"Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men's basketball recruiting... UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated,” Postel said in part in a statement.

The other university mentioned but not named as been confirmed as the University of Miami after the University’s atheltic director Blake James released a statement to CNBC.

"The University of Miami is aware of the indictments handed down today... As we are just learning the details, we cannot comment on the actions taken today by federal authorities. However, if requested, we will cooperate in any legal or NCAA review of the matter,” the statement read.

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