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Alabama basketball administrator resigns amid FBI sting

Alabama basketball administrator Kobie Baker, a former NCAA enforcement staffer, becomes the latest person to resign amid the FBI’s college basketball sting

Alabama basketball administrator Kobie Baker, a former NCAA enforcement staffer, becomes the latest person to resign amid the FBI’s college basketball sting. 

Athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement the decision followed an internal review of the basketball program resulting from a wave of arrests in a federal bribery probe.

‘Our review has not identified any NCAA or SEC rules violations nor the involvement of any other coach or staff member,’ Byrne said.

‘We have notified both of the governing bodies of the actions we have taken. As always, we will continue to be proactive in our compliance efforts.’

An athletic department spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the reason for Baker’s resignation.

Baker reportedly admitted during a meeting with Alabama officials on Wednesday to being ‘Staff Member 1’ in the FBI complaint, according to AL.com.

According to the FBI complaint, Rashan Michel, who was arrested Tuesday, arranged a meeting with a confidential witness (CW-1) and someone referred to as ‘Staff Member 1’ on or around May 3.

At that time, CW-1 paid $5,000 to Staff Member 1 and $2,000 to Michel.

It’s alleged that between May and August 31, Staff Member 1 received at least $25,000 from CW-1. 

During one meeting, which CW-1 recorded, CW-1 asked Staff Member 1 if he had the ability to influence players at his school to retain CW-1’s services as an advisor, which he said he did.

At the end of August, Staff Member 1 is accused of introducing the father of a star athlete to CW-1 in an effort to begin influencing the father to push his son to hire CW-1 upon turning pro.

Athletic director Greg Byrne (pictured) said in a statement the decision followed an internal review of the basketball program resulting from a wave of arrests in a federal bribery probe

Athletic director Greg Byrne (pictured) said in a statement the decision followed an internal review of the basketball program resulting from a wave of arrests in a federal bribery probe

The incoming player wasn’t named in the complaint. But, according to AL.com, five-star point guard Collin Sexton is from the Atlanta area.

Baker was entering his second year with the program and his first year as an associate athletic director. He is a former assistant director of enforcement for basketball development with the NCAA. 

His bio page was deleted from the Alabama website, but he oversaw ‘all areas of men’s basketball administration’ and his responsibilities included ‘salaries and benefits, operating expenses, team travel, donor relations, fundraising and scheduling non-conference opponents’. 

Baker put in his resignation on Wednesday evening just hours after Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino was effectively fired after the college program was linked to the federal fraud and corruption investigation. 

Pitino was told he had been let go during a meeting on Wednesday morning with Louisville interim president Greg Postel, according to multiple reports. 

However, at Wednesday’s press conference, Postel said Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave. Athletic director Tom Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave as well, explained Postel.  

Pitino and Jurich’s fate will be determined by the board of trustees no later than their next meeting, which Postel said is on October 18.  

‘Doing nothing would be a tacit admission of criminal behavior,’ Postel said.

Baker put in his resignation on Wednesday evening just hours after Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino (pictured) was effectively fired after the college program was linked to the federal fraud and corruption investigation 

Baker put in his resignation on Wednesday evening just hours after Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino (pictured) was effectively fired after the college program was linked to the federal fraud and corruption investigation 

Pitino was told he had been let go during a meeting on Wednesday morning with Louisville interim president Greg Postel (right), according to multiple reports

Pitino was told he had been let go during a meeting on Wednesday morning with Louisville interim president Greg Postel (right), according to multiple reports

Pitino – one of the highest paid basketball coaches in the world with an annual salary of $7.7 million – had not been linked directly to the FBI investigation. 

However, some of the most explosive allegations in the court documents appear to involve Louisville, which was already on NCAA probation over a sex scandal. 

In fact, Pitino had already been suspended for the first five games of the season after it was revealed that strippers were provided to basketball recruits by basketball operations director Andre McGee. Louisville is appealing the decision, but the school may ultimately be forced to vacate dozens of wins and the team’s 2013 national championship if the NCAA’s ruling is not overturned.  

Louisville hopes to name an interim coach and athletic director within 48 hours, Postel said. The status of the remaining coaching staff will be made by the interim coach. 

Pitino said he agreed with prosecutors that third-party schemes initiated by a few bad actors ‘operated to commit a fraud’ on universities and their basketball programs. He said fans and supporters deserve better.  

The Louisville program has already lost a pair of top recruits to the scandal. Anfernee Simons, a 6-3, 165-pound guard from Bradenton, Fla., announced Wednesday that he has rescinded his commitment to Louisville. Shortly thereafter, St. Louis-area guard Courtney Ramey changed his mind about the Cardinals, his father told Scout.com. 

Pitino’s said on Tuesday that he was shocked by the corruption allegations made by federal prosecutors in New York against some college basketball assistant coaches.

University of Miami’s President Julio Frenk said on Wednesday night that a member of the coaching staff is being investigated as part of the federal probe.

Frenk said the US Attorney’s Office has confirmed it is investigating a potential tie to a Miami coach and recruit. Frenk said school officials are ‘alarmed and disappointed’ by the development.

An attorney for head coach Jim Larranaga said Larranaga has no involvement with any accusations in the investigation. The attorney said Larranaga will continue to lead the Hurricanes.

Frenk says Miami has pledged full cooperation with the Department of Justice and the NCAA.

‘We will do what is right, even if doing so is hard,’ Frenk said in a statement.

A top Adidas executive and four assistant coaches are among 10 men charged with using hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of, shoe sponsors, agents and schools – one of which was allegedly Louisville. 

Adidas placed Jim Gatto, the company’s director of global sports marketing for basketball, on leave after his arrest. 

Pitino celebrating a national championship after Louisville defeated Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA Tournament Finals in 2013

Pitino celebrating a national championship after Louisville defeated Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA Tournament Finals in 2013

Pitino had already been suspended for the first five games of the season after it was revealed that strippers were provided to basketball recruits by basketball operations director Andre McGee

Pitino had already been suspended for the first five games of the season after it was revealed that strippers were provided to basketball recruits by basketball operations director Andre McGee

The sneaker and sportwear giant said Wednesday that it has hired an outside lawyer to conduct a corporate investigation and intends to cooperate with authorities.

Gatto was accused of working with coaches at Louisville and Miami to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to players to get them to commit to the Adidas-sponsored schools.

Authorities said they have records of two phone conversations between Gatto and a Louisville coach days before Brian Bowen committed to playing for the school. Prosecutors said Bowen and his family received $100,000 from Adidas to play for Louisville. Louisville also signed a $160 million deal with Adidas in August.

Bowen, an All-American from Indiana who chose Louisville over other national powerhouse programs such as Michigan State, Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon. 

Postel said that one player had been suspended indefinitely, and although he didn’t mention Bowen by name, the school’s interim president is believed to have been referring to the freshman forward. 

Bowen’s mother claims to have been in the dark. 

‘I don’t know anything about that,’ Bowen’s mother, Carrie Malecke, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. ‘I don’t know anything about that. I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea.’

The FBI and Justice Department named Gatto as one of 10 defendants on Tuesday. Gatto and four others were charged with ‘making and concealing bribe payments’ to students and their families.

Adidas was not named specifically in the filing, but was instead referred to as ‘Company-1’.

Brian Bowen is reportedly the recruit whose family received a $100,000 bribe

Brian Bowen playing for La Lumiere School in Indiana, where he was a five-star recruit

Brian Bowen (left after committing to Louisville and right playing at La Lumiere School in Indiana) is reportedly the recruit whose family received a $100,000 bribe

Louisville Athletic director Tom Jurich (right) was also let go by the university after he refused to personally fire Pitino (left). They are both pictured above in November 2014

Louisville Athletic director Tom Jurich (right) was also let go by the university after he refused to personally fire Pitino (left). They are both pictured above in November 2014

One of the two schemes involved managers and advisors bribing college coaches, who persuaded top recruits and their families to sign with those managers and advisors

One of the two schemes involved managers and advisors bribing college coaches, who persuaded top recruits and their families to sign with those managers and advisors

Another scheme involved Adidas rep, James Gatto, and his associates funneling cash to top recruits in order to push them towards colleges that had sponsorship deals with Adidas

Another scheme involved Adidas rep, James Gatto, and his associates funneling cash to top recruits in order to push them towards colleges that had sponsorship deals with Adidas

Feds target ‘dark underbelly’ of college basketball after 10 people – including coaches and an Adidas exec – are busted in a massive bribery and corruption investigation

On Tuesday the FBI and Justice Department launched a massive crackdown on what they described as the ‘dark underbelly’ of college basketball after 10 people – including four assistant coaches – were arrested as part of a widespread investigation into systemic bribery and corruption involving several schools.

According to acting US attorney in Manhattan Joon H. Kim, the investigation was launched in 2015 and focuses on ‘the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the N.C.A.A.’

No schools have been charged with any wrongdoing, but the University of Louisville announced it ‘received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting’.

The investigation is ongoing.

‘We have your playbook,’ New York FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said during a Manhattan news conference on Tuesday. ‘Our investigation is ongoing and we are conducting additional interviews as we speak.’

(From left to right) Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC, and Auburn's Chuck Person were all charged following an FBI investigation 

(From left to right) Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC, and Auburn’s Chuck Person were all charged following an FBI investigation 

Acting US attorney in Manhattan Joon H. Kim. H said the picture of college basketball painted by these criminal charges is 'not a pretty one'

Acting US attorney in Manhattan Joon H. Kim. H said the picture of college basketball painted by these criminal charges is ‘not a pretty one’

Specifically, two schemes were investigated: one in which recruits and their families were paid to go to particular universities and another in which player advisors were paid to persuade those players to sign with certain managers, agents, and financial advisors.

In a statement, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the organization has ‘no tolerance whatsoever’ for the behavior described in the court documents, calling the allegations ‘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,’ Emmert continued. ‘We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.’

Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC, and Auburn University’s Chuck Person – a former NBA player and 1987 Rookie of the Year – are the four coaches charged in the corruption scheme, according to court documents.

Evans told US Magistrate Charles Goodwin on Wedndesday during an initial court appearance that he understood the allegations that he took bribes to influence star athletes.

He did not enter a plea and spoke only to say that he understood the charges after they were read in court, and that he had not yet thoroughly discussed them with his lawyer.

Evans surrendered to federal marshals early Wednesday on federal corruption charges following an investigation into the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA.

Auburn's Chuck Person (pointing), who previously worked as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant and was once the NBA's Rookie of the Year, is accused of receiving nearly $100,000 in bribes

Auburn’s Chuck Person (pointing), who previously worked as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant and was once the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, is accused of receiving nearly $100,000 in bribes

He showed no expression as he was escorted into the courtroom in handcuffs wearing a long-sleeved black Nike shirt and matching pants.

Evans faces six charges. Prosecutors allege he expected $2,000 a month for his services. According to court documents, Evans said it was necessary to use his influence over the youngsters early in their college careers because many of them are ‘one and done,’ meaning they play one year of college ball before joining the NBA.

He was specifically told not to have contact with agent Christian Dawkins, financial adviser Munish Sood, Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson and Southern California assistant Anthony Bland. Evans, a Bahamas native, was also told to surrender his passport.

Evans’ bond was set at $50,000. He left the courthouse with lawyer, Trace Morgan, who said he did not have a statement. His next appearance will be October 10 in New York.

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder released a statement saying he was ‘shocked’ by the allegations and learned about them through media reports. 

Holder called them ‘serious’ and said they violate what the school stands for. He said Oklahoma State will cooperate with federal officials and coordinate with the NCAA in looking into the matter. 

Person was suspended by Auburn on Tuesday. 

Attorney Joon Kim said the coaches involved exploited the ‘trust of the players they coached and recruited’.

‘The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one – coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisors circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits,’ Kim said.

‘For the ten charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,’ he continued. ‘Month after month, the defendants allegedly exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.’

WHO IS ACCUSED OF WHAT? 

  • Adidas global sports marketing director Jim Gatto and three other defendants are accused of bribing three recruits with the intention of pushing them to particular schools that are sponsored by Adidas. In one case, Gatto is accused of funneling $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to persuade that player to attend an unnamed school in Kentucky. 
  • The University of Louisville signed a $160 million sponsorship deal with Adidas in August. And although the school was not named in the court documents, a spokesman released a statement in which the university acknowledged it had ‘received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting.’
  • Louisville’s Brian Bowen is a five-star recruit whose family was allegedly bribed by Gatto, according to multiple reports. Bowen is currently a freshman and awaiting his first season with the Cardinals after choosing Louisville over other basketball powerhouses such as Michigan State, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA. The 19-year old has NOT been charged.
  • The University of Miami may have been the ‘private research university located in Florida’ that received a commitment from a player who allegedly received $150,000 in bribes from Gatto and an accomplice. The school has not acknowledged whether or not it’s involved in the investigation, but details in the court filing make it clear that U of M is being referenced. 
  • Auburn Assistant coach Chuck Person, a former NBA star who won Rookie of the Year in 1987, is accused of taking bribes from a cooperating witness in exchange for steering a player to agent Rishan Michel. In total, Person is accused of accepting a total of $91,500 in the case, the complaint says. He’s also accused of passing along $18,500 to the families of two recruits. He faces bribery, wire fraud and other charges.
  • Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans, Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson and USC assistant Tony Bland were charged with solicitation of bribery for accepting payments to persuade players to sign with specific agents. According to the documents, the three received payments in ‘excess of $10,000.’
  • Jonathan Brad Augustine is accused of laundering payments through the Adidas-sponsored program ‘1 Family AAU,’ which he runs. He is also accused of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy.
  • NBA agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood are accused of bribing Person, Evans, Richardson, and Bland in exchange for the coaches’ agreement to push players to retain Dawkins and Sood’s services after signing with an NBA team.

  

FBI raids top NBA player agency, confiscates computer in connection with massive NCAA corruption investigation 

The FBI raided the office of one of the NBA’s top player agencies, ASM Sports, and confiscated founder Andy Miller’s computer in connection with the agency’s investigation into fraud and bribery in college basketball.

Legal and sports agent blogger Darren Heitner first reported the raid on Twitter. An ASM spokesman has not returned requests for comment.

On Tuesday Attorney Joon Kim and NY FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney announced the ongoing investigation that has already led to the arrests of 10 men, including four assistant college basketball coaches, two Adidas employees, a financial adviser, and Dawkins, who previously worked as an agent at ASM sports.

Agent Andy Miller (left) seen here with Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (center) and team president Masai Ujiri (right). Miller's computer was confiscated by the FBI on Tuesday

Agent Andy Miller (left) seen here with Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (center) and team president Masai Ujiri (right). Miller’s computer was confiscated by the FBI on Tuesday

Former ASM agent Christian Dawkins exiting Federal Court in Manhattan on Tuesday 

Former ASM agent Christian Dawkins exiting Federal Court in Manhattan on Tuesday 

Dawkins – who was reportedly fired by ASM for allegedly accumulating $42,000 in Uber charges on an NBA player’s credit card – is accused of bribing assistant college basketball coaches in exchange for their efforts to persuade collegiate players to sign with Dawkins when they turned professional. 

The documents also allege that Dawkins’s bribes were laundered through the Adidas-sponsored program ‘1 Family AAU,’ which was run by Jonathan Brad Augustine.

Miller’s agency represents some of the NBA’s biggest names, including Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis and Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

It’s unclear at this time if the raid at ASM is connected directly with Dawkins. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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