U.S. charges four college basketball coaches in bribery scheme

Adidas named in probe

Adidas and several NCAA schools have been targeted by the U.S. government for dirty money in college basketball. (Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters)

U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday charged 10 people, including four college basketball coaches and financial advisers, with bribery and fraud in connection with college recruiting.

Those charged include Chuck Person, associate head coach at Auburn University; Anthony Bland, associate head coach at the University of Southern California; Lamont Evans, assistant coach at Oklahoma State University; and Emanuel Richardson, assistant coach at the University of Arizona, according to documents filed in federal court in Manhattan.

Others charged include James Gatto, director for global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, and Rashan Michel, founder and operator of a clothing company in Atlanta.

Adidas said in an emailed statement that one of its employees had been arrested by U.S. authorities. “We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more,” it said.

Representatives of the universities and the NCAA, which regulates college basketball, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The schemes included bribes paid to high school athletes to secure their commitment to play for a particular university, prosecutors said. The charges include bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy.

Person is the best-known defendant, having been a two-time All-American at Auburn and its all-time scoring leader. He later played 13 years in the National Basketball Association, mostly with the Indiana Pacers. He played for the Charlotte Hornets for one season.

Prosecutors said Person accepted $91,500 of bribes over 10 months to steer Auburn basketball players he thought capable of joining the NBA to buy suits from Michel and hire an unnamed cooperating witness to provide financial services. They said he kicked back $18,500 to the families of two of the players.

Person allegedly told a current Auburn player at a secretly recorded December 2016 meeting at a Manhattan hotel that he knew some help he was providing was “a violation … of rules, but this is how the NBA players get it done, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships, they form trust.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to discuss the charges.