Indictments in NCAA Fraud Scheme Are Only the Beginning, US Attorney and FBI Warn

Indictments in NCAA Fraud Scheme Are Only the Beginning US Attorney and FBI Warn

Conservatives (and especially my fellow libertarians) rant and rave about government corruption all the day long, but often times we forget that corruption exists in big corporations and institutions as well. The NCAA is one of those institutions, and the FBI and U.S. Attorney are cracking down on a massive fraud and bribery scheme plaguing the college sports league.

This past Tuesday, 10 men were indicted on charges ranging from bribery, fraud, money laundering, and corruption. Four prominent coaches from the “Power Five,” the top conference divisions of college sports.

According to USA Today, the indictments handed down document more than 100 pages of allegations of how money was handled between the teams and sports apparel companies to top level recruits. Money was given to these recruits with an understanding that they would attend specific schools.

Four assistant coaches, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Southern California’s Tony Bland, Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, have been accused of taking bribes in exchange for pushing those recruits to sign with certain teams. The bribes reportedly range anywhere from $15,000 to nearly $100,000.

Louisville confirmed Tuesday it is one of the schools under investigation, and the four assistants accused of wrongdoing have been suspended by their respective schools.

Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that reading the filing “you will find yourself in the dark underbelly of college athletics.”

But perhaps the most alarming note from the news conference Kim held Tuesday afternoon in New York is that the investigation is ongoing, which means there is potentially more fallout and more arrests to come.

William Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s N.Y. office, said the charges levied against the power brokers in college basketball, “contribute to a ‘pay-for-play’ culture that has no place in college basketball. Today’s arrests serve as a warning to others choosing to conduct business this way in the world of college athletics: We have your playbook.”

Suspicions of such bribery and fraud have existed for many years, but the indictments confirm those suspicions.

For decades, many in college basketball believed there was widespread corruption, with influential shoe companies using cash incentives to direct players to certain schools, confident that the bribery would pay off years later when those players became professionals and signed lucrative endorsement deals with the shoe companies.

The investigation into the NCAA dealings has been a secret since its beginning back in 2015. More indictments are likely to come down in the coming months, as more evidence is gathered from around the NCAA conferences.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, calling the accusations deeply disturbing.

“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.”

The way the investigation was handled was like something out of Law and Order.

The details of the federal filings are staggering. The U.S. Attorney SDNY flipped a financial adviser facing fraud charges, and then placed two undercover agents posing as associates. Wire taps and videos followed from there. The documents detail handshake deals and agreements like the one between James Gatto (director of global sports marketing at Adidas), Munish Sood (financial planner) and Christian Dawkins (agent) in which they “conspired to illicitly funnel approximately $100,000 from company-1 to the family of Player-10, an All-American high school basketball player; to assist one or more coaches at University-6, a school sponsored by Company-1, and to further ensure that Player-10 ultimately retained the services of Dawkins and Sood and signed with Company-1 upon entering the NBA.

This flow chart, based on documents from the U.S. Attorney’s office from the Southern District of New York, details how the scam works.

What do you think about all of this? Will the unfolding of the NCAA’s corruption affect if you watch their games or purchase merchandise?

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