College basketball is a beloved pastime that has become a staple in American culture. The intense rivalries, legendary coaches and renowned NCAA Tournament are all a part of the fabric of life in America. However, in the past year or so, the drama surrounding college basketball has begun to tarnish its reputation.
This whole mess originally started on Sept. 27, 2017, when the FBI arrested ten people, four of them being assistant coaches. Also arrested was a man by the name of James Gatto, who was an executive for Adidas. They were charged with bribery and the illegal handling of money.
Adidas executive James Gatto, Adidas consultant Merl Code and Christian Dawkins were charged with bribery, wire fraud and money-laundering. The crimes were in regards to a conspiracy to pay high school prospects and/or their families into signing with Adidas-sponsored schools. Dawkins was trying to become an NBA agent at ASM Sports, but that certainly won’t be panning out once this investigation concludes.
Adidas employees were not the only ones being charged. According to Meredith Cash of Business Insider, “Assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, USC, and Oklahoma State [have been] accused of accepting thousands of dollars in exchange for guiding athletes toward certain financial advisers and business managers.” There is plenty of blame to go around in this FBI probe.
The next major break in this investigation came on Feb. 23, when a massive report was released by Yahoo! Sports which detailed all the schools and players that were involved in the scandal. The report was a bombshell for the NCAA and prompted the investigations which would soon follow.
A few months later, on April 10, Gatto was hit with more charges from prosecutors in New York, who claimed that he funneled money to the families of former players at NC State and Kansas, thus defrauding those institutions. Gatto ended up getting buried even more in this important development.
The first trial in this investigation consisted of three men: Gatto, Dawkins and Code. They all pleaded not guilty.
On Oct. 24, Gatto, Dawkins and Code were all found guilty based on the fact that the jury believed “that it constituted fraud for the defendants to funnel money to the families of college basketball recruits in exchange for the prospects’ commitment to teams sponsored by Adidas,” as stated by Marc Tracy of The New York Times.
These men could face multiple years in prison. Obviously, the issue of trying to bribe players with money is not completely erased with this trial. But, with the federal courts levying such heavy charges against these men, this case may scare away agents, coaches and executives from conducting illegal activities within the NCAA, specifically in their recruiting tactics.
This is not the only trial that will be taking place in this whole scandal. There will be two more trials in 2019.
The first one will be that of Rashan Michal, who is a former NCAA referee and close acquaintance of former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person. Person faces six federal crimes, including wire fraud and bribery, for his role in guiding student-athletes to Auburn with monetary compensation. The trial will take place on Feb. 4, 2019.
The second one will be regarding Emanuel Richardson, Lamont Evans and Tony Bland. As mentioned previously, they were all assistant coaches of Arizona, Oklahoma State and USC. This trial will be taking place on April 22, 2019.
Something interesting about this whole situation is how it may lead to the end of the N.B.A.’s ‘one-and-done’ rule. Midway through Oct. 2018, the NBA released a new idea they have about these super-players that are coming out of high school. With a base salary of $125,000, the proposition would entice would-be freshmen who have no real interest in playing collegiate basketball to join the G-League so they can prepare for their rookie season in the NBA. It is an interesting idea, and we will see how it pans out for both the NBA and the NCAA.