Four college basketball assistant coaches hit with federal fraud, corruption charges

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The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced early Tuesday that charges of fraud and corruption have been brought against four current college basketball assistant coaches -- Arizona's Emanuel "Book" Richardson, Auburn's Chuck Person, Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans and USC's Tony Bland. Managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major sportswear company have also been charged with federal crimes in a scandal that has rocked the sport.

"For the defendants charged today, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March," said U.S. Atty. Joon Kim. He added that the investigation is ongoing -- and that the NCAA was unaware of the investigation until Tuesday morning.

The four basketball coaches were arrested late Monday.

Among other things, Person is accused of accepting payments from an agent who was trying to development a business relationship with Auburn's Austin Wiley and his family. The sophomore center was a top-40 prospect coming out of high school. Richardson, Evans and Bland are accused of similar crimes.

Jim Gatto, director of global sports marketing at Adidas, was among those arrested. He's 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. He's now enrolled at Louisville.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino was asked about Bowen's commitment in June.

"We got lucky on this one," Pitino said. "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."
NBA agent Christian Dawkins was among those arrested. According to documents, he told an unidentified Louisville coach they would have to be "particularly careful" with how they passed money to Bowen and his family because Louisville was already on probation. The Louisville coach agreed, according to the document, and said, "We gotta be very low key."

"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."
The USAO described the investigation as such: "Since 2015, the FBI and USAO have been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA. As relevant here, the investigation has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid by athletic advisors, including financial advisors and business managers, among others, to assistant and associate basketball coaches employed by NCAA Division I universities as facilitated by the coaches, in exchange for those coaches exerting influence over student-athletes under their control to retain the services of the bribe-payers once the athletes enter the National Basketball Association."

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