Photo: Mark Kolbe (Getty)

Brian Bowen’s dad testified Thursday in the federal criminal trial of agent Christian Dawkins, Adidas executive James Gatto, and former Adidas operative Merl Code, who are accused of committing felony wire fraud as part of the FBI’s massive investigation of corruption in basketball recruiting. Bowen Sr. described being offered tens of thousands of dollars by various D1 basketball programs to influence the commitments of top AAU players, including his son.

The numbers are illuminating. They’re impressive if imagined as a layer of banded stacks of crisp bills inside a briefcase, but in exchange for a year of work from a highly skilled and widely recruited worker whose services will soon be worth tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed money, they’re not much! Bowen Sr. recalled receiving four substantial offers from four big programs:

According to Bowen Sr., Dawkins told him that Arizona assistant coach Joe Pasternack offered $50,000; Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans offered $150,000 cash, $8,000 for a car and additional money to buy a house; Texas assistant coach Mike Morrell offered to “help me with housing”; and Creighton assistant coach Preston Murphy offered $100,000 and a “good job, a lucrative job.”

Brian Bowen Jr. eventually signed with Louisville, reportedly for $100,000, allegedly funneled to his family from Adidas. Adidas reportedly cleared $1.4 billion in profit in 2017, so they can probably foot the cost of Bowen, whose eligibility was fucked by this revelation and who is now playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, via its Next Stars program, which is all but explicitly aimed at drawing the best prep prospects away from the NCAA. Bowen’s basketball talents have been helping to support his family for some time, according to Bowen Sr.:

Bowen Sr. told the jury that he received $2,000 per month from Shane Heirman for Bowen II to attend La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Indiana. Heirman was the head coach of La Lumiere at the time, and is now an assistant coach at DePaul.

Bowen II began his high school career playing for Dawkins’ Dorian’s Pride AAU program, but moved to the Michigan Mustangs on the Adidas circuit after Adidas program director T.J. Gassnola offered Bowen Sr. $25,000 for his son to play for the Mustangs.

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Bowen also reportedly played on the Nike AAU circuit after his dad was allegedly offered “between $5,000 and $8,000" by a program out of Chicago. The important thing to note about all this is this money is already changing hands all over the country, and has been for whole decades, as AAU operations and colleges and apparel companies jostle to land the next generation of NBA superstars. The value of top basketball players powers a robust economy of parasites and opportunists at every stop along the pipeline, enough that Adidas, in this case, is allegedly funding a whole network of influence peddlers in order to attract the best players. Here Adidas allegedly used Dawkins as middleman once the outcome of Bowen landing at Louisville seemed attainable:

After Adidas officials made an initial offer of $60,000-$80,000, according to Dawkins, Bowen Sr. said the offer to attend Louisville went up to $100,000 because Dawkins alleged that Billy Preston, who had chosen to play at Kansas, received $100,000 from Adidas for his commitment.

The money was to be paid in four installments of $25,000.

So Bowen Sr. is crying on the stand of a felony criminal trial, and his son has lost his NCAA eligibility and is being forced to continue his basketball career on foreign soil, because the only way for college stars to get paid even a fraction of the value they represent to athletic programs and apparel companies is via a seedy network of hangers-on making under-the-table payments. If anything should be on trial, it should be the cartel whose cynical “amateurism” rules have kept this fucked-up system in place.