Adidas says it’s unaware of any misconduct at its company in a college basketball bribe-paying scheme but will “fully cooperate with authorities.”
The company issued a statement Tuesday after federal prosecutors announced that its director of global sports marketing is charged along with four college assistant coaches.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim says the investigation was “covert until today.”
The head of New York’s FBI office, William F. Sweeney Jr., says the probe is still active and investigators are conducting interviews “as we speak.”
Federal investigators say a group of business advisers to athletes used thousands of dollars in Adidas money to make payments to top high school basketball players to get them to attend certain schools.
The acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan says the picture of college basketball painted by criminal charges his office brought against four college assistant coaches and an Adidas executive is not a pretty one.
Joon Kim made the comment at a news conference Tuesday after the charges were unsealed in Manhattan federal court. Assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State were expected to appear in courts later Tuesday to face the charges.
Kim says the case against 10 men, including sports agents and marketing professionals, exposed “the dark underbelly of college basketball.” He says the coaches exploited the “trust of the players they coached and recruited.”
It was not immediately clear who will represent the coaches in court.
The director of global sports marketing for Adidas is among those charged in a bribe-paying scheme that federal authorities say was designed to match agents and advisers to players before they became NBA stars.
James Gatto was arrested Tuesday along with nine others, including four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State. It was not immediately clear who will represent him in court.
In criminal complaints, authorities said agents and financial advisers paid bribes to assistant coaches to get them to introduce them to star college players and their parents before the students turned professional.
Authorities said the coaches received thousands of dollars in bribes, enabling the agents and others to get a slice of the millions of dollars the athletes could eventually make in the NBA.
Federal prosecutors have announced charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball, including against four coaches.
The coaches work at Oklahoma State, Auburn University, Arizona and the University of Southern California.
They were among 10 people charged in New York City federal court. Others included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major international sportswear company. The details will be discussed at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
In court papers, prosecutors said the FBI has since 2015 been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA.
They said the probe has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid by athlete advisers, including financial advisers and associate basketball coaches, to assistant and associate basketball coaches to exert influence over student athletes.