Corruption Allegations Rock College Basketball

The FBI has announced that four college basketball assistant coaches and six other people have been arrested in connection with bribes and other corruption in the sport. Assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and USC were implicated in the investigation. Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said that the investigation is ongoing, meaning more names could join the list.

The case stemmed from a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation targeting Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III, founder of Blazer Capital Management. The Pittsburgh-based financial adviser was charged with wire fraud and misappropriating $2.35 million from the accounts of several professional athletes. When the SEC asked Blazer to explain the unauthorized withdrawals, he produced falsified documents in an attempt to hide his wrongdoing. As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office, he pled guilty to securities fraud, aggravated identity theft, and two counts of wire fraud, among other charges.

According to U.S. Department of Justice documents, Blazer also was accused of making “payments and loans to NCAA athletes in order to induce those student-athletes to retain the defendant as a financial advisor and/or business manager.” Blazer became a cooperating witness for the FBI, providing information that sparked the investigation into the actions of college basketball coaches, financial advisers, sports agents, marketing officials and apparel company employees in the recruitment of college players bound to play for the NBA.

The clandestine FBI investigation involved wiretaps, surveillance video, undercover agents and cooperating witnesses. Multiple meetings with the accused were videotaped by Blazer to be used as evidence by the FBI. It is widely believed that NCAA sanctions will eventually follow the FBI’s investigation. The unprecedented probe has rocked college basketball.

Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans allegedly accepted at least $22,000 in bribes to steer his players toward the perpetrators of the scheme. Another $20,000 in bribes were paid to Arizona assistant Emmanuel “Book” Richardson. Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person allegedly agreed to take $50,000 in bribes to push prominent college athletes to work with the scheme’s creators. USC assistant Tony Bland allegedly took $13,000 in bribes.

Employees and affiliates of the Adidas sportswear brand have been charged with agreeing to make two payments totaling $250,000 to recruits to attend schools they sponsor. The Louisville Cardinals is alleged to have agreed to pay a recruit $100,000 that was paid through Adidas.
Louisville announced that athletic director Tom Jurich and basketball coach Rick Pitino have been placed on administrative leave.

The Miami Hurricanes is alleged to have had an assistant coach arrange a payment of $150,000 from Adidas to a potential 2018 recruit. Miami athletic director Blake James said, “As we are just learning the details, we cannot comment on the actions taken today by federal authorities. However, if requested, we will cooperate in any legal or NCAA review of the matter.” As of now, no one associated with the University of Miami has been charged.

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