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4 College Basketball Coaches, Adidas Executive, Charged In Bribery Case


The Department of Justice has brought charges in a wide-ranging college basketball bribery and fraud case. Here's how U.S. Attorney Joon Kim laid it out at a news conference today.


JOON KIM: Coaches at some of the nation's top programs soliciting and accepting cash bribes, managers and financial advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes and employees of one of the world's largest sportswear companies secretly funneling cash to the families of high school recruits.

SIEGEL: Ten people have been charged, including four assistant college basketball coaches and an executive at Adidas. All have been arrested. Mike DeCourcy is a college basketball columnist with The Sporting News, and he's been covering this case. Welcome to the program.

MIKE DECOURCY: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York described two separate schemes. Let's talk about the first one. This involved the assistant coaches being bribed. What was the alleged scheme, and who did they say was involved?

DECOURCY: Well, there are four assistant coaches, including a coach at Auburn, associate head coach Chuck Person, as well as assistant coaches at Oklahoma State, Southern California and Arizona. They are charged with accepting bribes for delivering particular players who had gone through their programs to a particular financial management firm. And then of course the financial management firm would profit from their association with those players as they turned professional.

SIEGEL: It's alleged that the coaches took money in order to direct the players to those companies. And the second scheme - what's charged there?

DECOURCY: The second case involves a scheme to direct particular players to particular schools who were affiliated with one of the conspirator's apparel company.

SIEGEL: And we should say the apparel company isn't named I guess in this. But the - it's Adidas obviously from reading between the lines.

DECOURCY: The - one of the indicted people was an executive at Adidas.

SIEGEL: Bill Sweeney of the FBI New York field office said at the news conference today that this investigation is ongoing. And he said to others conducting business this way in college sports, we have your playbook. Do you assume they're going to be more indictments in this case?

DECOURCY: I would not rule that out. But I think the point that was made by the FBI agent was more like, don't do this stuff because we'll catch you. And before, the problem had always been if you get caught, well, you might lose your job at school, or your school might go on probation or lose a post-season tournament or something like that. Now there's a lot more at stake. I think there was a cavalier attitude when it was only the NCAA. They had to be worried about - those three letters, the FBI, are a lot more intimidating than the four in the NCAA.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Of the people indicted, only one name rings a bell with me, and that's Chuck Person, an assistant coach at Auburn but also a former star basketball player there and a longtime NBA player.

DECOURCY: What's interesting about that is Chuck Person, according to statistical websites, made over $22 million in his NBA career and is making over a quarter of a million dollars a year as the associate head coach at Auburn. So why would he need the money that he was alleged to have accepted as a bribe? And I think that's the question that people in basketball are asking and that they wonder if the federal authorities will ask as well.

SIEGEL: Mike DeCourcy, college basketball columnist for The Sporting News, thanks for talking with us.

DECOURCY: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.