NCAA BASKETBALL | Louisville Linked to FBI Corruption Investigation

09/26/2017 11:35 AM

The University of Louisville confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that it is included in a federal investigation that is looking into criminal activity surrounding college basketball recruiting.

UofL interim president Dr. Greg Postel issued the following statement:

“Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting.

While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated.

We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter.”

Mark Emmert, the NCAA President, released a statement several hours later:

“The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing. We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”

The official complaint does not names specific schools, but does refer to a university in Kentucky with an enrollment of 22,640, which is roughly what UofL reported in 2016.

Some of the allegations listed in the complaint surround “University-6,” which is allegedly UofL.

“27. As set forth in more detail herein, beginning in approximately May 2017, and continuing into at least September 2017, JAMES GATTO, a/k/a “Jim,” MERL CODE, CHRISTIAN DAWKINS, and MUNISH SOOD, the defendants, and others known and unknown, conspired to illicitly funnel approximately $100,000 from Company-1 to the family of Player-10, an All-American high school basketball player; to assist one or more coaches at University-6 in securing Player-10’s commitment to play at University-6, a school sponsored by Company-1; and to further ensure that Player-10 ultimately retained the services of DAWKINS and SOOD and signed with Company-1 upon entering the NBA. The bribe money was structured in a manner so as to conceal it from the NCAA and officials at University-6 by, among other things, having Company-1 wire money to third party consultants who then facilitated cash payments to Player-10’s family. Further, the scheme could only succeed, and Player-10 could only receive an athletic scholarship from University-6, if the scheme participants, including one or more coaches at University-6, made false certifications to University-6.”

The complaint goes on to say that “Player-10” publicly announced his intention to “enroll at University-6” around the date of June 3, 2017.

Five-star recruit Brian Bowen announced his commitment to UofL on June 3, 2017.

UofL head coach Rick Pitino issued a statement through his attorney. It reads:

“These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorneys Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”

Also announced on Tuesday, multiple NCAA assistant basketball coaches were arrested in connection with the fraud and corruption investigation.

The coaches named in court documents include Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Arizona’s Book Richardson and USC’s Tony Bland. It was not immediately clear who would represent them at initial court appearances.

In total, 10 people are currently facing federal charges, according to the FBI complaint.

Overall, the investigation alleges multiple instances of bribes being offered to potential and eventual collegiate student-athletes. Those bribes were reportedly intended to exert influence over student-athletes so the athletes would retain the services of those paying the bribes.

James Gatto, the director of global marketing for “Company-1,” is named in the public documents. Two other representatives from “Company-1” are also named in the complaint.

Allegedly, “Company-1” is Adidas, which just signed a ten-year deal with UofL Athletics.

The affidavit, signed by FBI Special Agent John Vourderis says, “because this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probably cause, it does not include all of the facts that I have learned in the course of the investigation.”

U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a press conference earlier in the day that the investigation was covert until September 26, but they have since communicated with the NCAA and are working with them.

Stay with Spectrum News as this story develops.

Garrett Moore

Garrett is a Sports Producer for Spectrum News. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State and got his start as a sports photographer. He now produces Sports Night, the state’s only nightly show dedicated to in-depth coverage of all sports in Kentucky. Sports Night airs weeknights at 6:30 and 10:30 on Spectrum News. Outside the station, Garrett enjoys golfing, hiking, fishing, and prides himself on being all-in as a sports spectator. He won a gift card for playing an air guitar in the student section during an MTSU basketball game. Follow Garrett on Twitter @SportsNightGM for real-time sports updates or if you just want to see the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes in getting Sports Night on the air.

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