College basketball shaken with series of FBI arrests
TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona assistant basketball coach Emanuel Richardson entered the federal court wearing the same clothes he was arrested in earlier in the day, there to face charges of accepting bribes and paying at least one recruit to attend the school.
Across the country, nine other people, including three more assistant coaches, were arrested after a federal probe revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents, even tailors.
The arrests will have an immediate — and potentially long-lasting — impact on the programs involved. As the tentacles of the probe reach deeper into college basketball, more schools could come into the crosshairs and the black eye on the sport could darken.
“The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said.
Richardson, along with fellow assistant coaches Chuck Person of Auburn, Southern California’s Tony Bland and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans were all suspended after charges against them were announced.
James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, Rashan Michel, a maker of custom suits for some of the NBA’s biggest stars, and various financial advisers and managers also were charged.
Federal prosecutors said at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn’t name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.
Louisville is already under NCAA probation over a sex scandal after an investigation into a Cardinals staffer hiring escorts for sex parties and to strip for recruits and players. The NCAA said Louisville must vacate up to 123 victories earned with ineligible players and suspended Louisville coach Rick Pitino five games for failing to monitor staffer Andre McGee.
Pitino is not named in the federal documents, though the school acknowledged it is under investigation by the FBI.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney’s 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,” Pitino said in a statement.