It’s late September. The NFL is in full swing. College football is heating up. MLB pennant races are coming down the stretch. And NBA training camps are about to open. There is an absolute ton to talk about, which means that if I’m talking about college basketball right now, then something either really great is happening or something really terrible is happening. And since its college basketball and the FBI, it’s most definitely the latter.
The FBI announced this morning that they are arresting multiple college assistant coaches as part of an investigation into a fraud and corruption scheme. Four assistant coaches, Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, and USC assistant Tony Bland have been named in the FBI’s complaint documents. Also included in the charges, six other individuals including managers, financial advisors, and a representative from Adidas.
This is a reminder that there is a big difference between an NCAA investigation and an FBI investigation. One frequently comes out with a slap on the wrist, the other comes out with federal charges.
According to USA Today, in one complaint, the FBI alleges that Chuck Person, the former Auburn and NBA player, “abused his coaching position (at Auburn) to solicit or obtain bribe payments” from a financial advisor for professional athletes. The complaint goes on to allege that the financial advisor paid more than $90,000 in bribes to person in exchange for Person “agreeing to direct certain (Auburn) basketball players to retain the services (of the financial advisor) when those student-athletes entered the NBA.”
That’s not good. It’s never good when your name is showing up in an FBI document and even worse when that FBI document is detailing how you received bribes from a financial advisor, information that allegedly came from the advisor when the advisor rolled on Person.
And that’s just one of the stories involved. According to cbssports.com, Jim Gattis of Adidas was arrested and is charged with funneling $100,000 to the family of a prospect who ended up going to a school that’s sponsored by Adidas. It is believed that school is Louisville. Yikes. That’s not great at all.
This is still unfolding, so I’m not going to jump to any conclusions just yet, but I wouldn’t be too gleeful or too happy if you see someone from one of your rival schools get busted, because it feels like there are many more shoes to drop here. The FBI is having a press conference today and I’m guessing we’ll learn a lot more in the days and weeks ahead.
In the meantime, let’s get something straight. I’m not shocked that there is corruption in college basketball, especially when it comes to kickbacks, payouts, and shoe deals. Nobody should be shocked by this at all.
There are practically more reasons to cheat than there are reasons not to cheat and particularly in basketball, where one player can make the difference between a national title run and an NIT run, the incentives are there to do whatever you can to get him. Corruption like this is something that everyone has talked about, whispered about, and believed for decades. But thinking it, suspecting it, and believing it is one thing, having the feds busting out handcuffs and potential jail sentences is completely different.