Four assistant coaches at top college basketball programs took cash bribes to deliver star athletes to a financial adviser or an agent, federal prosecutors charged on Tuesday.
In addition to the coaches, six other people were charged, including managers, financial advisers and at least one representative of a major international sportswear company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The prosecutor's office said in a statement that details on charges of fraud, bribery and corruption would be announced later Tuesday.
The four assistant coaches were identified as Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University, Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona University, and Anthony Bland of the University of Southern California.
Oklahoma State University responded to the allegations, saying that the school was conducting its own investigation.
“We are cooperating fully with officials. Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards,” the statement said.
Person is an Auburn coach and former NBA star who was the fourth overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft and the rookie of the year the following season. He is accused of accepting approximately $91,500 from a business manager, who is cooperating with and worked for the government during the investigation, according to prosecutors. Person claimed he gave $18,500 of the money he accepted to two players' families, the complaint states.
The business manager, who was unidentified by prosecutors, offered cash bribes to Person in an attempt to steer students to retain his services, as well as the services of a co-defendant, Rashan Michel, founder and owner of an Atlanta-based clothing company, according to court documents.
The FBI made the arrests across the country overnight, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.
Among those arrested was James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for Adidas, who was accused of paying high school basketball players or their families for committing to sign with a university sponsored by Adidas. The complaint identifies $250,000 in payments made by Gatto and other co-defendants.
"Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee," the company said in a statement. "We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more."