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Old 09-27-2017, 08:26 PM
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FBI uncovers massive hoops scandal !!

FBI uncovers massive hoops scandal
September 26, 2017


NEW YORK (AP) In one of the biggest crackdowns on the corrupting role of money in college basketball, 10 men - including a top Adidas executive and four assistant coaches - were charged Tuesday with using hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes' choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents, even tailors.

Some of the most explosive allegations appeared to involve Louisville, one of college basketball's biggest powerhouses, which is already on NCAA probation over a sex scandal.

Federal prosecutors said at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.

''The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,'' said acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, adding that the defendants were ''circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes'' and exploited them to enrich themselves.

Prosecutors said that while some of the bribe money went to athletes and their families, some went to coaches, to get them to use their influence over their potentially NBA-bound players.

The coaches charged are Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of Southern California and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. Person and Evans were suspended, and Bland was placed on administrative leave.

Bland appeared in court in Tampa, Florida, wearing handcuffs and ankle chains. He said little during a brief hearing other than to answer the judge's questions and did not enter a plea.

Richardson appeared in court in Tucson, Arizona, where he was set for release on $50,000 bond. His lawyer declined to comment.

Those charged also include James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas; Rashan Michel, a maker of custom suits for some of the NBA's biggest stars; and various financial advisers and managers.

NCAA President Mark Emmert condemned the alleged misconduct, saying, ''Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families, and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust.''

Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA. Kim noted a special FBI hotline was set up and asked anyone aware of additional corruption to come forward.

Prosecutors said the coaches took bribes to use their ''enormous influence'' to steer players toward certain financial advisers and agents.

Most if not all of the 10 defendants were under arrest. Lawyers for Gatto and two of the coaches did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It was unclear whether Evans had an attorney.

Adidas said it was unaware of any misconduct by an employee and vowed to fully cooperate with authorities.

Gatto and others are accused of funneling $100,000 to the family of a high school athlete to gain his commitment to play at Louisville and to sign with Adidas once he became a professional. Louisville and Adidas announced a 10-year, $160 million extension of their sponsorship deal over the summer.

The player's name was not released, but details in the criminal complaint make it clear investigators were referring to Brian Bowen, who did not return messages seeking comment.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the allegations ''come as a complete shock to me.''

The development comes as Louisville is appealing a four-year NCAA probation over a scandal involving escorts hired for players and recruits. The scandal could cost the school its 2013 national championship.

In court papers Tuesday, the FBI said it recorded a July meeting at which an assistant coach at Louisville was briefed on a plan to funnel thousands of dollars to a potential high school recruit. The participants in the meeting noted they had to be careful because Louisville was on probation.

''We gotta be very low key,'' said the coach, according to the FBI.

Investigators said agents wiretapped a call in which Gatto and another defendant discussed an unidentified coach at Miami requesting that Adidas pay as much as $150,000 to another recruit, in part to prevent him from accepting a similar offer from a rival apparel company.

Louisville interim President Gregory Postel confirmed the university has been informed it is part of the investigation and said, ''Any violations will not be tolerated.''

Miami said it will cooperate with authorities, while USC said it appointed former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to conduct an internal investigation.

The investigation began after Martin Blazer, a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser to pro athletes, began cooperating with authorities in 2014. Blazer, accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of taking money from clients without permission, pleaded guilty this month to fraud and other crimes.

He admitted making payments and loans to NCAA athletes as far back as 2000 to get them to hire him.

Person, associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

Prosecutors said Person accepted about $91,500 in bribes from Blazer last year to steer clients to him when they reached the NBA. Some payments were alleged to have been arranged by Michel, a former NBA referee turned high-end clothier.

Person was quoted by prosecutors as telling one player: ''The most important part is that you ... don't say nothing to anybody ... don't share with your sisters, don't share with any of the teammates, that's very important `cause this is a violation ... of rules. But this is how the NBA players get it done.''

Prosecutors said Evans solicited at least $22,000 over the past two years, while Richardson in February was paid $20,000 in bribes, some of which he kept for himself and some of which he gave to at least one high school athlete to get him to play for Arizona.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:28 PM
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Pitino, Jurich out at U of L
September 27, 2017


The Federal Bureau of Investigation turned the college basketball world upside down Tuesday at a press conference in New York City. Four assistant coaches were arrested on federal charges of bribery and fraud, including Auburn’s Chuck ‘The Rifleman’ Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, USC’s Tony Bland and Arizona’s Emanuel Richardson.

Four other individuals were also arrested, including agents, financial planners and Adidas employees. At FBI headquarters on Tuesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said, “Fraud and corruption in the world of college basketball. If you yourself engaged in these activities, I’d encourage you to call us. I think it’s better than us calling you.”

There were three complaints filed by the Dept. of Justice. One detailed a $100,000 payment by “University 6,” which was easily identified to be Louisville. The payment was for five-star recruit Brian Bowen, who signed with U of L in June.

When Kim was done at the podium, FBI assistant director Bill Sweeney said, “Our investigation is ongoing. And we are currently conducting interviews.”

This investigation started in 2015, and nobody – not even the NCAA – knew a thing about it until Tuesday. It started with a financial planner getting caught up in a securities fraud case. This individual rolled over, brought an undercover FBI agent into the mix and before you know it, the FBI agent was wearing a wire while posing as the financial planner’s assistant for meetings with agents, AAU coaches and college assistant coaches.

I’m no lawyer, but it’s clear what’s going on here. The FBI could care less about the four assistants it arrested yesterday. Facing significant jail time and an additional felony charge for each lie to Dept. of Justice officials, the college assistants are highly likely to provide information galore.

What happened yesterday is only surprising in that the government is now involved. College basketball recruiting has been a cesspool of sordid individuals for decades. Agents, runners, low-life locals preying upon kids with basketball talent from the time they were in middle school in an effort to eventually profit from the relationship.

Remember, the NCAA has no subpoena power so even though it has been aware of these sorts of activities for decades, it usually can’t act unless major mistakes are made by those committing NCAA violations.

More dominos are going to fall but the first went down in Louisville this morning. The legendary career of Rick Pitino has ended in disgrace. Pitino, who burst into the national spotlight 30 years and six months ago by guiding a Providence team led by Billy ‘The Kid’ Donovan to the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans, was promptly pink-slipped upon arriving on campus today.

Pitino’s attorney Steve Pence confirmed to multiple media outlets that his client was “effectively fired,” although interim President Greg Postel described it as being “placed on unpaid administrative leave.” The only reason for that verbiage is a clause in Pitino’s contract that says he must be given 10 days’ prior notice and “an opportunity to be heard.”

Tom Jurich, U of L’s AD for 20 years, was placed on paid administrative leave. In other words, he’s also been dismissed. Jurich reportedly was told to fire Pitino this morning and when he refused, he was asked to resign himself. Jurich reportedly refused to do because he claimed he had done nothing wrong, and then he was fired as well.

Jurich built Louisville into a powerhouse over the last two decades, upgrading the school’s facilities to compete nationally in football and helping the school get into the ACC. He also was critical in getting a new basketball arena – the KFC Yum! Center – built to replace an aging Freedom Hall.

But Jurich’s downfall was his loyalty to Pitino, who had somehow survived two major scandals in his 16-year tenure at the school. I’m talking about two scandals before Tuesday’s news broke. In 2009, Pitino was the target of an extortion attempt by the wife of a member of his staff.

As it turned out, Pitino had an extramarital affair with Karen Sypher, who was found guilty and sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Pitino had to testify at the trial, revealing that he paid $3,000 for Sypher to get an abortion a few months after having sex with her “briefly, for only 15 seconds or so” at a Louisville restaurant.

Then in 2015, another scandal broke detailing how Louisville recruits were entertained by strippers and hookers. Pitino claimed to know nothing and blamed everything on U of L staffer and former player, Andre McGee, who was alleged to have paid cash for strippers and prostitutes to dance and have sex with recruits in the team’s dorm.

These allegations were made in a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” by Katina Powell. In June, the NCAA suspended Pitino for the first five ACC games of this upcoming season and stripped the school of its 2013 national championship in men’s basketball. The school is appealing this decision.

Pitino had a decent run with the New York Knicks after getting that job following his success at Providence. When he was fired by the Knicks, he took the Kentucky job shortly after the school was rocked by NCAA violations that left UK hoops on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline, “Kentucky’s Shame.”

Pitino led UK back to prominence, leading his team to a 22-6 record in his second season. The Wildcats were banned from postseason play during the first two years of his tenure. In his third campaign at UK, Pitino’s four seniors – Deron Feldhaus, Sean Woods, Richie Farmer and John Pelphrey, a foursome known in UK lore as ‘The Unforgettables’ – and Jamal Mashburn led the ‘Cats to the East Region finals.

UK faced the defending national champs in that 1992 Elite Eight game at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia. Duke’s Christian Laettner played the perfect game, making all 10 of his shots from both the field and the free-throw line. But in overtime of this epic contest that most, including This Guy, call the greatest game in college basketball history, Woods hit a running leaner in the paint that kissed home off the glass to put UK ahead by one with 2.1 seconds left.

After a timeout, Pitino infamously decided not to guard the ball to distract Grant Hill from his length-of-the-floor pass. That pass was caught by Laettner, who had the unfathomable arrogance and audacity to take one dribble and make a slight spin move while gathering himself for a fadeaway jumper that he released just barely before the horn sounded. The historic shot caught nothing but nylon, lifting Duke to the Final Four where it repeated as national champs.

The entire state of Kentucky went into mourning. Days later, at a celebration of the 1992 team in front of a jam-packed Rupp Arena crowd, ‘The Unforgettables’ saw their jerseys hung from the rafters, where they remain to this day next to other UK greats who had their numbers retired.

In the next five seasons, Pitino would take the ‘Cats to three Final Fours, winning his first national title 1996 with one of the greatest teams ever assembled. After losing to Arizona in overtime of the 1997 national-title game, Pitino’s pride to prove he could be successful in the NBA led him to accept a record contract to be the head coach and GM of the Boston Celtics.

It was a terrible decision. He left Boston in disgrace after failing to garner any trips to the postseason. The Celtics had a 102-146 record under Pitino from 1997 to 2001.

His 16-year stay at U of L began in 2001. Pitino took the Cardinals to 13 NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours and one national title, which, as previously noted, has been stripped by the NCAA pending an appeal. His record at U of L was 416-141. Pitino’s career in college hoops will end with a 770-269 ledger (74.1%).

And make no mistake, it is over. He'll never have a job in basketball outside of television.

Pitino is already in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps the Hall of Shame would be more fitting? His career will be remembered more for his arrogance and his failures – both with the Celtics and the drama he brought to his family and the U of L basketball program, which he leaves in a mess and facing serious NCAA sanctions.

Another huge development at Louisville is the status of head football coach Bobby Petrino, who is familiar with scandals himself. In his contract, his buyout is reduced to $4.25 million if Jurich leaves the school, as reported by USA Today this morning. This will have several, perhaps as many as a half-dozen, SEC schools interested in hiring Petrino, who will leap at such an opportunity with his biggest fan in Jurich no longer around.

Also, Auburn offered all of its season-ticket purchasers full refunds early this morning. Obviously, this means that Bruce Pearl’s tenure – and perhaps that of AD Jay Jacobs as well – at Auburn will almost certainly be coming to an end soon, possibly as early as today.

College basketball was turned on its head yesterday, and it’ll never be the same again. And that’s a good thing, a development long overdue.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:29 PM
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FBI subpoenas Nike's youth program
September 27, 2017

The other shoe could be about to drop in the widespread investigation into bribery, fraud and corruption in college basketball.

"Employees of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League have been subpoenaed by FBI for furtherance of investigation," attorney and Forbes contributor Darren Heinter tweeted on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.

That news comes one day after Adidas director of global sports marketing Jim Gatto, four college basketball assistant coaches, agents and financial advisers linked to several different universities bribed collegiate basketball players.

In a formal complaint released Tuesday before a press conference in New York, the FBI alleges Gatto, Adidas employee Merl Code, former agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood aligned to pay $100,000 to the family of a highly touted recruit.

"We have your playbook," New York FBI assistant director in charge Bill Sweeney said Tuesday in New York. "Our investigation is ongoing, and we are conducting additional interviews as we speak."

Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League has become one of the nation's premier travel programs for high school-aged players and younger since it debuted in 2010.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:32 PM
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OK State assistant surrenders to FBI
September 27, 2017


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The Latest on a federal fraud and bribery scandal in college basketball (all times local):

7:55 p.m.


The University of Miami president says a member of the coaching staff is being investigated as part of the federal probe of basketball recruiting at seven universities.

President Julio Frenk says the U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed it is investigating a potential tie to a Miami coach and recruit. Frenk says school officials are ''alarmed and disappointed'' by the development.

An attorney for head coach Jim Larranaga says Larranaga has no involvement with any accusations in the investigation. The attorney says Larranaga will continue to lead the Hurricanes.

Among several allegations, federal prosecutors say at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name those schools but contained enough details to identify them as Miami and Louisville.

Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave.

Frenk says Miami has pledged full cooperation with the Department of Justice and the NCAA.

''We will do what is right, even if doing so is hard,'' Frenk said in a statement.

---

6:35 p.m.

Alabama basketball administrator Kobie Baker, a former NCAA enforcement staffer, has resigned.

Athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement the decision followed an internal review of the basketball program resulting from a wave of arrests in a federal bribery probe.

''Our review has not identified any NCAA or SEC rules violations nor the involvement of any other coach or staff member,'' Byrne said. ''We have notified both of the governing bodies of the actions we have taken. As always, we will continue to be proactive in our compliance efforts.''

An athletic department spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the reason for Baker's resignation.

Baker was entering his second year with the program and his first as an associate athletic director.

He is a former assistant director of enforcement for basketball development with the NCAA.

---

6:20 p.m.

Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans told a judge during an initial court appearance that he understands the allegations that he took bribes to influence star athletes.

Evans appeared before U.S. Magistrate Charles Goodwin on Wednesday but did not enter a plea. He spoke only to say that he understood the charges after they were read in court, and that he had not yet thoroughly discussed them with his lawyer.

Evans surrendered to federal marshals early Wednesday on federal corruption charges following an investigation into the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA.

Evans showed no expression as he was escorted into the courtroom in handcuffs wearing a long-sleeved black Nike shirt and matching pants.

Evans faces six charges. Prosecutors allege he expected $2,000 a month for his services. According to court documents, Evans said it was necessary to use his influence over the youngsters early in their college careers because many of them are ''one and done,'' meaning they play one year of college ball before joining the NBA.

Evans was specifically told not to have contact with agent Christian Dawkins, financial adviser Munish Sood, Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson and Southern California assistant Anthony Bland. Evans, a Bahamas native, was told to surrender his passport.

Evans' bond was $50,000. He left the courthouse with lawyer, Trace Morgan, who said he did not have a statement. His next appearance will be Oct. 10 in New York.

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder released a statement saying he was ''shocked'' by the allegations and learned about them through media reports. He called them ''serious'' and said they violate what the school stands for. He said Oklahoma State will cooperate with federal officials and coordinate with the NCAA in looking into the matter.

---

5:45 p.m.


UConn coach Kevin Ollie says a federal fraud and bribery scandal implicating several universities and coaches is a ''dark day in our great game.''

Ollie says it's his responsibility to make sure his staff understands and abides by the rules of recruiting.

He says: ''I will take the 2014 championship over any recruit I lost.''

UConn Athletic Director David Benedict, who was hired in 2016 after being chief operating officer in Auburn's athletic department, says he was shocked and saddened by the allegations against Auburn.

Federal prosecutors say Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person accepted $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to a financial adviser when they reached the NBA.

Benedict says the scandal could be unprecedented in NCAA history.

Benedict says he would not like to hear ''I don't know'' from a coach as a reason for something his assistant coaches did, saying it is the head coach's responsibility to know.

Benedict said the involvement of shoe companies, AAU coaches and others has made recruiting challenging.

He says he hopes that ''maybe this is a turning point to be able to clean this part of men's college basketball up.''

---

5:30 p.m.


Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey says if allegations of fraud are true, they ''reveal alarming activities within the sport of basketball.''

Sankey issued a statement a day after Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person was among those arrested in a fraud investigation into college basketball.

He says the depth of the problem is still uncertain but things need to be corrected to keep basketball and college athletics healthy. Sankey says the alleged activities hurt those who recruit the right way.

---

5 p.m.

Apparel company Adidas has placed an executive on leave after his arrest in a fraud investigation of college basketball.

The sneaker and sportwear giant said Wednesday that it has hired an outside lawyer to conduct a corporate investigation and intends to cooperate with authorities.

James Gatto, the company's director of global sports marketing for basketball, is accused of working with coaches at Louisville and Miami to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to players to get them to commit to the schools.

Authorities say they have records of two phone conversations between Gatto and a Louisville coach days before Brian Bowen committed to playing for the school. Prosecutors say Bowen and his family received $100,000 from Adidas to play for Louisville.

---

4:45 p.m.

Auburn is refunding season tickets to some fans after a college basketball assistant coach was arrested on fraud charges in a sweeping investigation of the sport.

Athletic department spokeswoman Cassie Arner said Wednesday that Auburn has granted refunds to about 30 fans who requested them after the arrest of associate head coach Chuck Person.

The refunds come two days after the school announced a fourth consecutive sellout for the program.

Person has been suspended without pay after federal prosecutors said he accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to Pittsburgh-based financial adviser Martin Blazer when they reached the NBA. It left considerable uncertainty around coach Bruce Pearl's program, which had approached the season with high hopes.

---

3 p.m.


An attorney for Miami coach Jim Larranaga says Larranaga has no involvement with any accusations in a federal probe of college basketball recruiting at seven universities.

Miami and Larranaga acknowledged the investigation into alleged bribery of recruits, which implicated the Hurricanes program.

Larranaga's attorney Stuart Grossman says Larranaga ''is unfamiliar with this matter and had zero involvement in any allegations of any impropriety.''

Grossman says Larranaga will continue to lead the team.

Athletic director Blake James also issued a statement saying the school was aware of the indictments in the case, and would cooperate with any review of the matter.

Federal prosecutors say among several allegations that at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name those schools but contained enough details to identify them as Miami and Louisville.

Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave.

---

2:20 p.m.


Auburn has hired a Birmingham law firm to conduct a review of the basketball program after the arrest of assistant coach Chuck Person on fraud charges.

A university spokesman said Wednesday that Lightfoot, Franklin and White will conduct the review. The firm is already investigating the softball program following a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint from a former player.

Person was among four college coaches and others arrested Tuesday. Auburn has suspended the former NBA player and Tigers star without pay.

Prosecutors say Person, Auburn's associate head coach, accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to Pittsburgh-based financial adviser Martin Blazer when they reached the NBA.

Federal Judge Wallace Capel Jr. in Alabama Middle District Court ordered Person to appear in New York's Southern District on Oct. 10.

---

2 p.m.


The head of the National Association of Basketball Coaches says the group will pursue reforms if a federal probe show a need within the sport.

Executive Director Jim Haney said Wednesday that the allegations of recruiting improprieties at seven universities ''have shaken the game and the coaching profession to the core.''

Haney says coaches hold themselves to high ethical standards as role models and leaders.

---

1:15 p.m.

Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach's attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has ''effectively fired'' Pitino.

Pitino's exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men's program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director's nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

---

1 p.m.


Rick Pitino's attorney has told the Courier-Journal that Louisville has put the basketball coach on administrative leave, but has ''effectively fired'' Pitino amid a federal bribery investigation.

Steve Spence told the paper Tuesday the coach was out before a scheduled news conference at the school.

Pitino's exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men's program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

But it is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions handed out in June following an escort scandal.

---

12 p.m.

The FBI says Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans has surrendered to federal authorities in allegations that he took bribes to influence star athletes.

FBI special agent Jessica Rice says Evans surrendered to federal marshals early Wednesday on federal corruption charges following an investigation into the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA.

Rice says Evans is scheduled to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Charles Goodwin about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

According to the papers, Evans expected $2,000 a month for his services. Evans said it was necessary to use his influence over the youngsters early in their college careers because many of them are ''one and done,'' meaning they play one year of college ball before joining the NBA, according to court papers.

---

11:45 a.m.

Louisville has scheduled a news conference during which officials are expected to address the university's involvement in a federal bribery investigation, the latest scandal involving the Cardinals men's basketball program.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino is not mentioned in the federal indictment announced Tuesday that resulted in the arrest of 10 people, including four assistant basketball coaches at major Division I programs. The investigation and arrests come as Pitino and Louisville are appealing NCAA sanctions following a sex scandal that began nearly two years ago.

In the latest investigation, federal prosecutors say at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify one of them as Louisville.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:34 PM
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College hoops takes a big hit with arrests
September 27, 2017


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) University of Arizona assistant basketball coach Emanuel Richardson entered the federal court wearing the same clothes he was arrested in earlier in the day, there to face charges of accepting bribes and paying at least one recruit to attend the school.

Across the country, nine other people, including three more assistant coaches, were arrested after a federal probe revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes' choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents, even tailors.

The arrests will have an immediate - and potentially long-lasting - impact on the programs involved. As the tentacles of the probe reach deeper into college basketball, more schools could come into the crosshairs and the black eye on the sport could darken.

''The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,'' acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said.

Richardson, along with fellow assistant coaches Chuck Person of Auburn, Southern California's Tony Bland and Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans were all suspended after charges against them were announced.

James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, Rashan Michel, a maker of custom suits for some of the NBA's biggest stars, and various financial advisers and managers also were charged.

Federal prosecutors said at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.

Louisville is already under NCAA probation over a sex scandal after an investigation into a Cardinals staffer hiring escorts for sex parties and to strip for recruits and players. The NCAA said Louisville must vacate up to 123 victories earned with ineligible players and suspended Louisville coach Rick Pitino five games for failing to monitor staffer Andre McGee.

Pitino also had to testify in 2010 in a federal extortion trial for the wife of the school's equipment manager, when he acknowledged under oath to having an extramarital affair with her in a Louisville restaurant.

Pitino is not named in the federal documents, though the school acknowledged it is under investigation by the FBI.

''These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney's Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville,'' Pitino said in a statement. ''Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.''

But, as the leader of the program, Pitino could end up taking the blame if the allegations prove to be true. The NCAA could also give Louisville the death penalty, grounding the basketball powerhouse.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl could face similar heat.

He coached at Tennessee from 2005-11 before being fired and hit with a three-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA for lying to investigators about recruiting violations. Pearl was given a second chance at Auburn, but another scandal could spell trouble for him if the allegations are proven true.

Regardless of whether the federal probe leads all the way to the top, the programs could take a hit - and not just from the NCAA.

With the prospect of an NCAA investigation on the horizon, top recruits may stay away. Current players in the programs could be declared ineligible if the probe finds they accepted money from an agent or an assistant coach.

Arizona coach Sean Miller has one of the top recruiting classes for 2018, and the Wildcats have been projected to be a top-10 team this season. Andy Enfield has a strong incoming recruiting class at Southern California and has a potential top-10 team this season.

The trajectory of the two Pac-12 programs could be altered as the probe deepens.

And the initial charges could be just the tip of the iceberg. More programs and coaches could be entangled as the FBI digs deeper, and schools where the arrested coaches previously worked could face scrutiny.

The FBI and U.S. attorneys have the reach and the power to expand the investigation. It has also set up a tip line and encouraged anyone with information on the case to come forward.

This is far from over, and the implications could last for years.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:35 PM
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A lot of nervous people waiting for more
September 26, 2017


The seamy underbelly of college basketball has always existed, despite the halfhearted and mostly futile efforts by the NCAA to make sure everybody plays fair.

Now that it's finally been penetrated by real lawmen, the only question is how many people the FBI ends up taking down.

The number stood at 10 Tuesday after federal prosecutors moved to arrest, among others, a top Adidas executive, and assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State. They are charged in a bribery scheme to steer future NBA players toward selected sports agents and financial advisers.

But with mentions of people associated with the University of Louisville and University of Miami caught on wiretaps scheming to pay players as much as $150,000 to come to their schools, there figures to be a lot of nervous people in college basketball waiting for the other, er, shoe to drop.

Make no mistake about it. These aren't bumbling NCAA inspectors leading the investigation into shady agents, shoe companies and unscrupulous coaches.

These are FBI agents and U.S. attorneys with great powers of both subpoena and persuasion. Their investigation is not done and anyone leaning on the fence about whether to cooperate will have to balance their loyalty to programs with the very real fact they might go to prison if they don't fess up.

And fess up they will. A day of reckoning may be coming for some big programs, and some big-name coaches.

If the allegations are true - and there seem to be a lot of wiretaps supporting them - it could also mean the end of Rick Pitino's coaching career and possibly the end of Louisville's powerhouse basketball program.

Yes, it looks as if Pitino is in trouble again, just months after the NCAA ordered the school to vacate its 2013 national title because strippers danced and performed sex acts for recruits and players. Pitino was also suspended for five conference games and the school's basketball program put on four years' probation, actions he claimed were unjust because he said he knew nothing about what was going on.

Defiant then, he claims to be shocked now. Pitino issued an incredibly tone-deaf statement Tuesday blaming ''a few bad actors,'' and painting the university and his program as victims of a ''third-party scheme.''

Guess you can only blame rogue assistant coaches for so long.

Louisville is the school named in the complaint as University 6, where the family of a top basketball recruit was allegedly promised $100,000 in late May or early June if he signed with the school. The FBI said it recorded a meeting in July where an assistant coach at Louisville was briefed on a plan to funnel thousands of dollars to the recruit's family, and the participants in the meeting noted they had to be careful because Louisville was already on probation.

According to the complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, the money was to be funneled through Adidas, whose director of basketball marketing was charged in the filing. Just last month, Louisville and Adidas reached agreement on a 10-year, $160 million contract to equip and sponsor the school's sports teams.

Louisville announced on June 3 the unexpected signing of recruit Brian Bowen, who hadn't been considering the university previously. Pitino at the time bragged to a local radio station he didn't have to spend a dime on recruiting visits for Bowen.

''In my 40 years coaching this is the luckiest I've ever been,'' Pitino said.

Pitino may not be feeling so lucky now. If the allegations are proven the NCAA may have no choice but to can Pitino and give Louisville the death penalty, eliminating basketball at the perennial national contender.

Just as interesting were details in the complaint that outed Miami as the university where Adidas and another unnamed apparel company were involved in a bidding war for a 2018 recruit that reached $150,000.

The allegations shouldn't be a shock to anyone who has been around an incestuous sport laden with snake oil shoe salesmen, millionaire coaches and sleazy recruiters. It's a place where business has always been conducted with handfuls of cash behind closed doors, with the powerless NCAA seemingly unable to do anything but count the billion dollars or so it gets each year for allowing the scam.

Now it's being exposed in a way that not long ago would have been unfathomable. Now people are likely going to be sent to prison instead of being scolded by the NCAA.

That's a seismic change in the way punishment is handed out in big-time college athletics.

And it should make a lot of people in the sport very nervous.
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Details about the college hoops corruption probe
September 27, 2017


LOUISVILLE

Who's accused: Forward Brian Bowen and the basketball program for lack of oversight.


Why: James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, is among those accused of funneling $100,000 to the family of a high school athlete to gain his commitment to play at Louisville and to sign with Adidas once he became a professional. The player's name was not released, but details in the criminal complaint make it clear investigators were referring to Bowen.

Fallout:
Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave. Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach's attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has ''effectively fired'' Pitino.

Next steps:
Louisville waits. The scandal could cost the school its 2013 national championship. The program already is on probation because of a scandal involving escorts hired for players and recruits.

AUBURN

Who's accused: Assistant coach Chuck Person.


Why: Federal prosecutors say the former NBA player accepted about $91,500 in bribes to steer clients to Pittsburgh-based financial adviser Martin Blazer when they reached the NBA.

Fallout: Person has been suspended without pay. Auburn is refunding season tickets to about 30 fans. Head coach Bruce Pearl, who has had issues before, is now under scrutiny again.

Next steps: Auburn has hired a Birmingham law firm to conduct a review of the basketball program. Person is slated to appear in court in New York's Southern District on Oct. 10.

ARIZONA

Who's accused: Assistant coach Emanuel Richardson.


Why: Court documents say Richardson allegedly accepted $20,000 in bribes and used money to influence at least one unidentified basketball player to commit to play for Arizona.

Fallout: Richardson has been suspended and relieved of all duties.

Next steps: The Department of Justice is investigating.


MIAMI

Who's accused: An unidentified player or players and an unidentified assistant coach.


Why: Federal prosecutors say among several allegations that at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name those schools but contained enough details to identify them as Miami and Louisville. Miami coach Jim Larranaga's attorney, Stuart Grossman, says his client ''is unfamiliar with this matter and had zero involvement in any allegations of any impropriety.'' School president Julio Frenk says the U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed it is investigating a potential tie to a Miami coach and recruit. Frenk says school officials are ''alarmed and disappointed'' by the development.

Fallout: None yet.


Next steps: Athletic director Blake James also issued a statement saying the school was aware of the indictments in the case, and would cooperate with any review of the matter.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Who's accused: Assistant coach Lamont Evans.


Why: He allegedly took he took bribes to influence star athletes to go to certain agents. According to FBI papers, he expected $2,000 a month for his services. He said it was necessary to use his influence over the youngsters early in their college careers because many of them are ''one and done,'' meaning they play one year of college ball before joining the NBA, according to court papers.

Fallout: Evans has been suspended. New coach Mike Boynton goes into his first season without his top assistant.

Next steps: Evans is to appear in court in New York's Southern District on Oct. 10.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Who's accused: Assistant coach Tony Bland.


Why: According to the Orange County Register, Bland allegedly received bribes to steer players to agents and facilitated payments of $9,000 to the families of two unidentified Trojans players. Bland also is accused of accepting $13,000 during a meeting July 29 in Las Vegas with Christian Dawkins, a former agent with ASM Sports,

Fallout: Bland has been placed on administrative leave. He appeared in federal court in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday.

Next steps: USC said it appointed former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to conduct an internal investigation.

ALABAMA

Who's accused: Basketball administrator Kobie Baker.


Why: Athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement that there was an internal review of the basketball program resulting from a wave of arrests in the federal bribery probe, and Baker has resigned. An athletic department spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the reason for Baker's resignation.

Fallout: It may be limited. Byrne said the review has not identified any NCAA or SEC rules violations, nor the involvement of any other coach or staff member.

Next steps: Byrne said the school will continue to be proactive in its compliance efforts.
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NCAA coaches charged with corruption
September 26, 2017


Four assistant college basketball coaches were among those arrested on federal corruption charges Tuesday after they were caught taking bribes to steer NBA-destined players toward certain sports agents and financial advisers, authorities said.

Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and USC assistant Tony Bland were named in court documents on Tuesday.

James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing at Adidas, was also targeted in the probe, as well as financial advisers and managers.

"The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one," Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Tuesday news conference.

"Coaches at some of the nation's top programs soliciting and accepting cash bribes. Managers and financial advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes. And employees of one of the world's largest sportswear companies secretly funneling cash to the families of high school recruits.

"For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. 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."

Court papers show the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on charges and student athletes affiliated with the NCAA since 2015.

NCAA president Mark Emmert was troubled by the corruption charges.

"The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing," Emmert said in a statement. "We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation."

Auburn said in a statement that Person is suspended without pay effective immediately.

"This morning's news is shocking. ... We are committed to playing by the rules, and that's what we expect from our coaches," the university's statement said.

Oklahoma State released the following statement on Tuesday.

"We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials," the statement read. "We are reviewing and investigating the allegations. We are cooperating fully with officials.

"Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards."

The University of Arizona also released a statement and declared Richardson immediately suspended and relieved of his duties. The school also postponed its local media day scheduled for Wednesday.

"We were made aware of the Department of Justice's investigation this morning and we are cooperating fully with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office," the statement read.

"... We were appalled to learn of the allegations as they do not reflect the standards we hold ourselves to and require from our colleagues. The University of Arizona has a strong culture of compliance and the expectation is we follow the rules."

Bland was placed on administrative leave by USC, and athletic director Lynn Swann released the following statement on behalf of his school.

"We were shocked to learn this morning through news reports about the FBI investigation and arrests related to NCAA basketball programs, including the arrest of USC assistant coach Tony Bland," the statement read.

"USC Athletics maintains the highest standards in athletic compliance across all of our programs and does not tolerate misconduct in any way. We will fully cooperate with the investigation and will assist authorities as needed, and if these allegations are true, we will take the needed action."

Later Tuesday, USC vice president for compliance Mike Blanton said the university hired former FBI director Louis J. Freeh to assist its internal investigation.

The sealed FBI complaint against Gatto and others also includes a reference to a "public research university located in Kentucky," with University of Louisville interim president Gregory Postel confirming in a statement it is the school mentioned.

The complaint details that the unnamed school -- identified as "University-6" -- has an enrollment of approximately 22,640, which matches that of Louisville during the 2016-17 academic year. It also states that the school offers approximately 21 varsity sports teams, which is the same offered by the Cardinals, according to the athletics department's website.

"Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men's basketball recruiting," Postel said in the statement. "While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university.

"U of L is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated. We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter."

The allegations against the unnamed school in Kentucky include payments of $100,000 from a sports apparel company to the family of an unnamed player, identified as "Player 10," to ensure him signing with the school.

The indictment also says that prior to paying Player-10's family, the defendants "first needed time to generate a sham purchase order and invoice ostensibly to justify using Company-1 funds since they could not lawfully pay the family of Player-10 directly and risk that such prohibited payments be revealed."

Gatto is accused of helping funnel approximately $100,000 to the family of an "All-American high school basketball player" to secure the prospect's commitment to a school Adidas sponsors. According to documents, the prospect committed in June. The only "All-American high school basketball player" who committed to a school Adidas sponsors in June is Brian Bowen, who is currently enrolled at Louisville.

"We got lucky on this one," Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said of the commitment in June. "I had an AAU director call me and say, 'Would you be interested in a basketball player?' I said ... 'Yeah, I'd be really interested.' But (Bowen and his people) had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotels, pay for their meals. So we spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40-some-odd years of coaching, this is the luckiest I've been."

A number of powerhouse programs, including Arizona, Oregon, Michigan State and Creighton, were among the finalists considered by the 6-foot-7 Bowen.

"I don't know anything about that," Bowen's mother, Carrie Malecke, told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday. "I don't know anything about that. I'm not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea."

Pitino will be suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games in the 2017-18 season for failing to monitor his men's basketball program in the wake of a sex scandal, the Division I Committee on Infractions announced on June 15.

The Cardinals also will be on probation for four years, have scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions. Louisville will also forfeit any money received through conference revenue sharing from the 2012-15 NCAA Tournaments.

Adidas also released a statement on Tuesday.

"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," Adidas said in a statement.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement as Richardson and Bland are assistants at institutions in the conference he oversees.

"As Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, I am deeply troubled by the charges filed in federal court today against a number of individuals involved in college basketball, including two assistant coaches employed by member institutions of our conference. Protection of our student-athletes, and of the integrity of competition, is the conference's top priority.

"I have been in contact with the leadership of both universities and it is clear they also take this matter very seriously. We are still learning the facts of this matter, but these allegations, if true, are profoundly upsetting to me. They strike at the heart of the integrity of our programs, and of the game that so many people love and play the right way."

Person, 53, was a star player at Auburn and led the school to its first three NCAA Tournament appearances (1984-86) before going on to a 14-year NBA career. He was Rookie of the Year with the Indiana Pacers in 1986-87. He returned to Auburn as an assistant coach in 2014.

According to documents, Person received $91,500 in bribery payments to allegedly influence two unnamed Auburn players to certain agents and financial advisors.

Evans joined the Oklahoma State staff last season and was promoted to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the upcoming season.

Richardson joined the staff at Arizona in 2009. He played collegiately at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Bland, who joined the USC staff in 2013-14, played for Syracuse and San Diego State.
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