Months before the FBI investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball came to light, former Louisville coach Rick Pitino met with a soon to be indicted former Adidas executive about how the company could keep prize recruit Romeo Langford inside the Adidas camp and away from teams like Kentucky, according to a story published Wednesday by The Washington Post.
“They knew that Nike and Under Armour were going to make a run for him,” Pitino told the Washington Post of a meeting with Adidas executive Jim Gatto. “I didn’t want him going to Nike or Under Armour . . . because then, he would’ve gone to Kentucky or somewhere else. . . . I would’ve had no chance.”
The Washington Post story by Will Hobson, details Adidas' maneuvers to sponsor an AAU team led by Langford's father, Tim Langford in January of 2017.
Tim Langford's team, of course would include his son. Establishing a relationship with a purported NBA prospect in high school and keeping it through college could mean a lucrative endorsement deal for all parties when that player turns pro.
Pitino detailed how the shoe companies bid for an AAU team, which includes sponsorships of "$100,000 to $150,000" to be used by the team's director.
“The way they phrased it, it was whoever (shoe company) was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it,” Pitino told the Post in a phone interview. "That’s the way that world works. Which is completely legal, by the way.”
Pitino also said in the story that Adidas executives "knew if they ever mentioned anything illegal with me, paying a kid, that would be the end of the conversation, and Adidas would no longer represent the University of Louisville."
Langford committed to Indiana, an Adidas-sponsored school, last month.
The Adidas sponsorship of the Langford AAU team, mirrors a similar situation regarding Duke commitment Marvin Bagley III and Nike that was reported on by The Oregonian earlier this year.