NEW YORK – (AP) — Four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State were among those arrested on federal corruption charges Tuesday after they were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer NBA-destined college stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisers, authorities said.
The coaches were identified in court papers as Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. They are in federal custody and expected to make court appearances later Tuesday.
They were among 10 people charged in Manhattan federal court. Others included managers, financial advisers and James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing at Adidas. The details were to be discussed at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA, federal authorities said.
In criminal complaints, investigators said many coaches have “enormous influence” over their players and how they select their agents and other advisers when they leave college and enter the NBA.
“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the papers said.
Person was arrested in Alabama; Bland in Tampa, Florida; Evans in Oklahoma; and Richardson in Arizona. It was not immediately clear who will represent them in court. It was also not clear who will represent Gatto.
Person, the associate head coach at Auburn University, was selected by the Indiana Pacers as the fourth overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. He played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.
A criminal complaint quoted Evans in several instances bragging about his ability to steer the young athletes toward prospective agents and advisers, promising them that “every guy I recruit and get is my personal kid.”
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 or two years of college ball before joining the NBA, according to court papers.