New York, N.Y. (NBCTY) – A two-year federal investigation has exposed bribery schemes at top-college programs involving coaches, players and an Adidas executive.
In all, 10 people are accused of using bribes to influence star high school and college athletes.
The schools involved are promising to fully cooperate with federal investigators.
The NCAA calls the allegations “deeply disturbing.”
Federal prosecutors say they point to “the dark underbelly of college basketball.”
Joon Kim, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, said, “The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one.”
Among those charged are four assistant coaches from well-known programs: Chuck Person of Auburn, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona and Tony Bland of USC.
Davy McCall is a student at USC. He said, “I think things like this probably go on far more than we imagine–not unique to this school.”
Prosecutors say in exchange for bribes of up to $100,000 the coaches steered NBA-bound athletes to specific agents and financial advisers, including sports manager Christian Dawkins.
He’s also charged, but declined to comment following his court appearance Tuesday.
According to the criminal complaint, Dawkins told an undercover agent, “If we take care of everybody and everything is done, we control everything. You can make millions off of one kid.”
“For these men, bribing coaches was a business investment,” said prosecutor Kim. “They knew that the corrupt coaches in return for bribes would pressure the players to use their services.”
Prosecutors say in another scheme, Adidas executive Jim Gatto helped funnel money to the families of star high school athletes so they’d attend universities sponsored by Adidas.
Court documents don’t name the schools, and no one from the schools has been charged.
But the University of Louisville–a college basketball powerhouse–confirmed it was part of the investigation, adding, “This is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university.”
Louisville’s men’s basketball program is already on probation and its head coach Rick Pitino was suspended following an unrelated sex-for-pay scandal punishments that are currently under appeal.
Pitino reacted to the bribery case, saying, “These allegations come as a complete shock to me.”
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