Sports | September 28, 2017 9:49 am

How the FBI Discovered Corruption and Fraud in College Basketball

Ten people were arrested as part of a three-year investigation into bribes and corruption.

The FBI announced on Tuesday that 10 people were arrested as part of a three-year investigation into brides and other corruption in college basketball, including four assistant coaches from six schools, reports ESPN

Assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and USC were implicated in the investigation, reports ESPN. Lousiville placed athletic director Tom Jurich and longtime basketball coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave.

The investigation is still ongoing, and there could be more arrests, Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said, according to ESPN. In order to uncover these corruption scandal, the FBI went undercover with an “elaborate, clandestine” investigation that included wiretaps, surveillance video, and cooperating witnesses.

According to ESPN, it all started with Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III, a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser, who was investigated multiple times by financial regulators, was linked to an investigation of improper cash payments to University of North Carolina football players, and accused of a 14-year-long wire fraud scheme. According to ESPN, Blazer made “payments and loans to NCAA athletes in order to induce those student-athletes to retain the defendant as a financial advisor and/or business manager.”

So during his plea agreement, Blazer agreed to become a cooperating witness for the FBI. This information sparked the investigation “into the relationship between college basketball coaches, financial advisers, sports agents, marketing officials and apparel company employees in recruiting NBA-bound players,” reports ESPN. 

Blazer was introduced by a friend to Rashan Michel, a former NBA and Southeastern Conference referee, who opened a store that sold high-end, custom-tailored suits. Many coaches and players wore his suits. Michel told Blazer that in the fall of 2016 that Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person needed money and in exchange, Person would “agree to steer student-athletes to [Auburn’s] basketball team to retain [Blazer’s] financial advisory and business management services,” writes ESPN. 

Ultimately, the FBI said Person received a total of $91,500 from Blazer, reports ESPN. Blazer also paid Michel tens of thousands of dollars from Jan. 2017 to about September, according to the FBI, and Michel helped facilitate the payment of $25,000 to a staff member of another school, ESPN writes.

Meanwhile, Louisville was getting involved in a scheme with Adidas. According to the FBI complaint and ESPN, James “Jim” Gatto, Adidas’ head of global sports marketing who had worked at the company for 24 years, and Christian Dawkins, formerly an agent for ASM Sports, agreed to pay $100,000 to a top recruit’s father at the request of a Louisville coach. Dawkins, on a call with an undercover agent and Munish Sood, a financial adviser from Princeton, New Jersey, said that they were paying the player’s family so he would sign with Dawkins and his new agency and sign an endorsement deal with Adidas when he turned pro, according to ESPN. 

Plus, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans accepted at least $22,000 in bribes to steer his players toward Sood and Dawkins, according to ESPN. On top of that, according to ESPN, the FBI alleges The FBI alleges Arizona assistant Emmanuel “Book” Richardson and USC assistant Tony Bland were also receiving payments.