FBI alleges college basketball corruption scheme; coaches charged

The University of Louisville appears to be implicated in an FBI investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball.

Federal criminal charges have been brought against 10 people, including four college basketball coaches, as well as managers, financial advisers, and representatives of a major international sportswear company, the justice department said in a news release on Tuesday.

While no Louisville coaches or assistant coaches have been named in the indictment, the 32-page document released Tuesday alleges a public research university in Kentucky (University-6 in the indictment) “with approximately 22,640 students and over 7,000 faculty” was involved. That is the exact enrollment listed on the University of Louisville’s website.

Louisville’s ties to the case might center on a particular recruit. According to the indictment, the family of an unnamed All-American Class of 2017 player received $100,000 for his commitment to the school.

The indictment alleges the commitment of a player, who made his decision late in the recruiting process “on or about June 3,” was part of a scheme to funnel money to the player’s family and ensure that the player “ultimately retained the services” of two of the defendants named upon entering the NBA.

That date corresponds with the surprise commitment of five-star recruit Brian Bowen to Louisville, according to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish.

In an interview in June with WHAS, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said the Cardinals got lucky with the commitment of Bowen.

“I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player (Bowen). I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40 years of coaching, this is the luckiest I’ve been.”

According to reports by NBC News and other outlets, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State Chuck Person of Auburn University and Emanuel Richardson of Arizona are among the coaches named in court documents. The defendants named in the indictment are James “Jim” Gatto, Merl Code, Christian Dawkins, Jonathan Brad Augustine and Munish Mood.

Person was arrested in Alabama; Bland in Tampa, Fla.; Evans in Oklahoma; and Richardson in Arizona. Person, the associate head coach at Auburn University, was the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft in 1986 and was selected by the Indiana Pacers. He played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In court papers, prosecutors said the FBI has since 2015 been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA.

“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the papers said.

They said the probe has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid by athlete advisers, including financial advisers and associate basketball coaches, to assistant and associate basketball coaches to exert influence over student athletes.

“Moreover, many such coaches have enormous influence over the student-athletes who play for them, in particular with respect to guiding those student-athletes through the process of selecting agents and other advisers when they prepare to leave college and enter the NBA,” the complaints said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI are scheduled to have a 12 p.m. news conference Tuesday to detail the investigation.

Two U of L assistants involved?

Additional details on potential ties to Louisville:

Based on identifying information within the federal documents, Louisville is referred to as “University-6”, Adidas is referred to as “Company-1” and both are listed throughout the complaints.

The allegations state that Gatto, Code, Dawkins, Sood and others conspired to illicitly funnel approximately $100,000 to the family of “Player-10” – described as an “All-American high school basketball player” – with the end goal being “Player-10’s” commitment to “University-6.” The payment would also ensure that “Player-10” ultimately retain the services of Dawkins and Sood as representatives upon entering the NBA.

According to the allegations in the federal documents, this plan was devised in May of this year and “Player-10” ultimately announced his commitment to “University-6” on or about June 3.

Five-star basketball recruit Bowen committed to Louisville on June 3.

Bowen – a 6-foot-7 wing from Saginaw, Mich. – became the Cardinals’ highest-ranked commitment in nine years, and Louisville was a late suitor in his recruitment, coming on at the very end after Bowen considered several other top schools for much longer periods of time.

The federal allegations state that the commitment of “Player-10” was described as one that “came out of nowhere” and a “late recruiting coup” for “University-6.”

The federal allegations also detail a case involving “University-6” and another highly touted basketball recruit from the class of 2019.

These details involve a meeting between defendants Dawkins and Augustine and a coach from “University-6” that took place in a Las Vegas hotel room. The timeframe described in the documents indicates the meeting happened during the Adidas Summer Championships — a major recruiting event for college coaches — in late July.

Prior to the meeting, the FBI placed video recorders inside of the hotel room.

The federal documents state that Dawkins “laid out the plan to funnel money to the family of Player-11,” who is described as a class of 2019 recruit.

“We’re all working together to get this kid to (University-6),” Dawkins told those assembled, according to the federal documents.

Dawkins also noted that “University-6” was “already on probation with the NCAA,” according to the federal documents, and that “they would have to be particularly careful with how they passed money to Player-11 and his family.”

The coach from “University-6” agreed: “We gotta be very low key,” he said.

After the coach from “University-6” left the room, according to the federal documents, those remaining started discussing the arrangement with the family of “Player-10” and referred to a second coach at “University-6,” implying that he also had knowledge of the payments related to “Player-10.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.