The latest story in what has been one of the craziest sports weeks in history involves the FBI, the NCAA, and College Basketball in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest college sports corruption scandals in history.
Here is part of the statement from the Department of Justice released prior to their press conference today:
Federal criminal charges have been brought against ten people, including four college basketball coaches, as well as managers, financial advisors, and representatives of a major international sportswear company.
This morning, the US Attorney for New York’s southern district announced corruption charges against assistant basketball coaches at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and USC. This was the results of an ongoing FBI investigation into these coaches taking bribes from agents, companies, and advisors to steer student-athletes towards their companies as they looked to go pro. Each of the four coaches could face up to 80 years in prison if convicted.
The other set of allegations is a little more vague, in that the companies and universities involved are not named. We can, however, speculate based on the information we know, and what the potentially universities involved have announced.
James Gatto, the global sports marketing director at Adidas, allegedly acted as a middle man for payments of $100,000 or more between several universities and at least three of the top recruits in the nation. One of the unnamed universities matched the description of Louisville, and Louisville’s president confirmed in the following statement that they were in fact one of the schools involved:
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
Three of the coaches involved, as well as James Gatto, a second Adidas employee, and several NBA agents and financial advisors were arrested this morning for the charges.
The question that remains is “what’s next”, and to be honest, we don’t really know. We’re likely going to have to wait a while until the FBI and the NCAA finish investigating to find out the kind of punishments we’re looking at. NCAA penalties could range from loss of scholarship, to postseason bans, to even the death penalty, particularly for Louisville, who is currently on probation for their 2015 scandal involving their basketball team and the purchasing of prostitutes for recruits.
NCAA President Mark Emmert released the following statement on the investigation:
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 or course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.
It’s also important to note that we are still unaware of the full extent of this investigation. We have yet to find out all of the universities involved, and the FBI noted that this is still an open investigation. They are continuing to search for more schools involved and to look for answers to the many questions they have about the scandal rocking the sports world.
This will likely have major implications on this year’s college basketball season, which tips off in just a few weeks. Keep following Maryland Sports Blog as we continue to search for answers.
UPDATE (9/27/17, 3:57am EST): It appears that the University of Miami has also been implicated in the reports, allegedly working with Adidas executives to get $150,000 to a student-athlete.
UPDATE (9/27/17, 4:00am EST): Rick Pitino, head coach of Louisville basketball, released a statement earlier today saying that the allegations came “as a shock to [him]…” and that he is “…committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
UPDATE (9/27/17, 4:21pm EST): Louisville has placed basketball Head Coach Rick Pitino on unpaid leave, and AD Tom Jurich on paid leave. Replacements for both will be named in the next 48 hours.