Adidas Executive Arrested in College Basketball Bribery Scandal

James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for basketball at adidas, as well as managers, financial advisers, and representatives at adidas have been arrested by the FBI, according to Business Insider.

Gatto and four other defendants have been charged with “making and concealing bribe payments” to high school student athletes and/or their families. The arrests have sent adidas stock into a downward spiral.

Also arrested for federal bribery, fraud, and corruption charges were coaches Anthony Bland, associate head coach at the University of Southern California; Chuck Connors Person, associate head coach at Auburn University; Lamont Evans, associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for Oklahoma State University’s basketball team; and Emmanuel Richardson, an assistant coach for University of Arizona, according to Business Insider.

The investigation, led by the FBI and the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, has been active since 2015. Three separate complaints have been filed.

In one, Gatto and the other defendants reportedly funneled $100,000 to the family of a high school basketball player in an effort to convince the player to sign with a “public research university” in Kentucky. While the complaint doesn’t name the university, it is likely the University of Louisville, which signed a $160 million sponsorship deal with adidas in August.

According to Business Insider, Gatto and other defendants allegedly agreed to make payments of up to $150,000 from adidas to convince a player to join another team sponsored by adidas. Although the university is not named in the filing, it is likely the University of Miami, which signed a 12-year partnership with adidas in 2015.

adidas said it was unaware of Gatto’s activities. “Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee,” an Adidas spokesperson said in an email to Business Insider. “We are learning more about the situation. We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more.”

Gatto and other defendants used apparent payments to nonprofits as a way to conceal the bribes paid to players and their families.

adidas stock 9-26-2017

Other defendants include Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of nonprofit The League Initiative; Merl Code, the head of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League as of 2013; and Christian Dawkins, a former sports agent who was reportedly fired in May for charging $42,000 in Uber rides on an NBA player’s credit card.

The United States Attorney’s office is scheduled to discuss the charges of the ten people arrested at a news conference at noon, according to The New York Times.

Chuck Person auburn bribery scandal

Chuck Person, an assistant coach at Auburn. Credit Icon Sportswire, via Associated Press


Source: Business Insider / NYTimes


  1. What a joke. What kind of a witch hunt is the FBI after and which shoe company is paying the feds to do this? Think about it…if Adidas is doing it then ALL the shoe companies are doing it and it’s been proven that this has been going on for a long time. So this article is a joke at best.

      1. Truly a dumb comment. First, it’s not a witch hunt if there’s tangible evidence in existence already. They aren’t trying to grab at straws. It sounds like they have it. Second, just because others are doing it doesn’t mean that it’s right. Third, I would assume that when everyone eats, you don’t blow the whistle by involving the feds because they will probably go after you next if they can. In other words, why tip them off and potentially have yourself investigated when the light bulb goes off in their heads? Wouldn’t you just make yourself more attractive to the recruits and so the cycle continues?

    1. actually the article did indicate that other shoe companies were involved. in addition to adidas, Auburn is an Under Armour school, USC is Nike, head of Nike’s EYBL is a defendant…..the article just reported the facts that are available right now. the writer did not interject his opinion on ANYTHING. breaking stories are always hard to cover because all the facts are not always readily available. i think the writer did a GREAT job of gathering all the facts that are presently available and presenting them in an organized and concise fashion. not sure what else you would want from an article.

  2. If other companies face legal issues similar to Adidas in this scandal, it could be a great time for brands such as Brandblack to step into the spotlight and increase their publicity and popularity.

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