Four college basketball coaches have been arrested after being charged by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney with various counts of bribery and fraud. The arrests resulted from a nearly two-year investigation that examined the shady links between college basketball coaches and outside businesses, including agency firms, financial advisors, and Adidas. The coaches named in the now unsealed documents are Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Auburn’s Chuck Person, USC’s Tony Bland, and Arizona’s Emanuel Richardson. None of the involved schools have responded to our requests for comment. You can read the full list of charges at the bottom of this post
Also charged for their roles in attempting to steer young players to specific schools or agencies for personal gain were Munish Sood, the chief investment officer for a financial advisory group; Christian Dawkins, a former NBA agent; Rashan Michel, a founder and operator of a clothing company in Atlanta; Merl Code, an Adidas employee; Jonathan Brad Augustine, an AAU director with ties to Adidas; and Jim Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas.
Several universities are referenced in the charges, but none are explicitly named though. The art of deduction allows for some easy connections, though, as the reports name the locations and enrollment sizes of the schools. The FBI claims that Gatto paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the families of elite recruits to steer them toward Adidas schools, including Louisville, which is referenced as “Uni 6" in the documents as well. Several Louisville writers have deduced that the referenced transgression was a payment to five-star forward Brian Bowen, who, according to the document, flipped his commitment to Louisville after receiving a $100,000 payment set up by Gatto.
Evans, Richardson, and Bland allegedly took money from Dawkins and Sood in exchange for pushing their players to use Dawkins’s former agency (he was fired for racking up $42,000 in Uber bills on a player’s credit card) and Sood’s financial advisor services. The group was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes and gratuities by an agent of a federally funded organization (Evans, Richardson, and Bland only), payments of bribes and gratuities to an agent of a federally funded organization (Dawkins and Sood), conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services wire fraud (“Uni 2" and “Uni 3"), honest services wire fraud (“Uni 4"), honest services wire fraud (“Uni 5"), wire fraud conspiracy, and travel act conspiracy.
Person and Michel, who was arrested for trying to beat up Dominique Wilkins over some suits in 2011, are being brought up on six counts: Bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, travel act conspiracy. Gatto, Code, Dawkins, Augustine, and Sood were charged with wire fraud conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is holding a press conference at noon to discuss the charges and the state of the case moving forward. The full complaints can be read below.
Update (11:46 a.m. ET): Oklahoma State sent along the following statement regarding the charges against Lamont Evans:
We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials. 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.
Update (2:56 p.m. ET): USC and Auburn have since released statements regarding their coaches; Oklahoma State also released an updated statement indicating it has suspended Evans.
USC on Tony Bland’s charges:
This morning we were surprised to learn of the FBI investigation and arrest of USC Basketball assistant coach Tony Bland. After learning of these allegations Bland was placed on immediate administrative leave.
USC places the highest priority on athletic compliance and is taking this situation very seriously. Accordingly, we have hired former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, and his firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, to work with us in conducting an internal investigation into this matter so that we can take action quickly and appropriately.
This morning, we reached out proactively to both the NCAA and the FBI to pledge our full cooperation and to learn more details. Everyone associated with the program will cooperate fully with these investigations and will assist authorities as needed.
Oklahoma State on Evans’ suspension:
Based on the serious and troubling allegations in the complaint, Oklahoma State University has suspended assistant coach Lamont Evans. We are cooperating with federal officials. We have been in contact with the NCAA and will provide additional information as it becomes available. OSU takes seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department and does not tolerate any deviation from those standards.
Auburn on Person’s charges and subsequent suspension:
This morning’s news is shocking. We are saddened, angry and disappointed. We have suspended Coach Person without pay effective immediately. 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.
Update (3:52 p.m. ET): Arizona released the following statement, announcing the immediate suspension of Emmanuel Richardson:
We became aware of the situation involving one of our men’s basketball coaches Emmanuel Richardson this morning. We have been working in conjunction with the University, and have confirmed that Richardson has been suspended effective immediately. We will cooperate fully with authorities as they move through their investigation.
We work under the basic directive that all department personnel operate within applicable laws and NCAA rules. The behavior that Richardson is accused of is completely unacceptable and does not reflect the principles of this athletics department.