ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech Athletics is still planning on moving forward with a future deal with Adidas, according to an athletics spokesman, despite the apparel company's employees being involved in an alleged bribery scandal.
On Tuesday, four NCAA basketball coaches were indicted in a fraud and corruption scheme which included managers, financial advisers, and representatives of sportswear companies. The investigation conducted by the FBI and U.S. Attorney found that coaches were soliciting and accepting bribes from those who had influence over the student-athletes. They did so in an effort to try and recruit the student-athletes for particular schools. And apparel companies were seeking commitments for future endorsement deals when athletes turned professional.
According to the FBI complaints made public, the four coaches involved are Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Southern California assistant Tony Bland, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans.
Director of global sports marketing at Adidas James Gatto, Merl Code (who recently left Nike for Adidas) and Jonathan Brad Augustine (president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program) were named in court documents from the investigation which the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have been investigating since 2015.
Georgia Tech announced just over a month ago that it was planning on entering into a deal with Adidas beginning in July 2018 for the company to be the team's jersey and apparel provider. The school is still planning on entering that deal as of Tuesday.
"Georgia Tech athletics is aware of today’s news regarding charges being brought against an Adidas employee. At this time, we do not anticipate it affecting our relationship with Adidas. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate with Adidas as more information comes to light," Georgia Tech athletics said in a statement to 11Alive.
Adidas issued a statement in reference to Gatto: "Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee. We are learning more about the situation. We're unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more."
According to the complaint, Gatto, Code, Christian Dawkins (NBA Agent) and Munish Sood (financial adviser), funneled $100,000 from Adidas to the family of a high school athlete so that player would commit to play at an NCAA Division I program that is sponsored by Adidas. In the complaint, the school was called University 6 and has not been identified.
Gatto, Code, Augustine and Sood also allegedly agreed to pay as much as $150,000 from Adidas to another high school player to play at a different school (known as University 7) in return for Dawkins' services as an agent and to get a commitment for the player to sign with Adidas when he turned professional. Dawkins and Augustine also “agreed to facilitate payments to the family” of another unspecified high school player in exchange for that player’s commitment to University 6.
The Yellow Jackets will be the eleventh Power Five school to partner with Adidas. Louisville and Miami are the others in the ACC who partner with Adidas. Louisville admitted it is part of the investigation.
In the documents, schools in Florida and Kentucky were mentioned to have been funneling money to families of prospective players. Miami would not comment if it was the Florida school involved.
Prosecutor Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described the findings in a Tuesday afternoon news conference as "the dark underbelly of college athletics."
"The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one," Kim said. "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."
11Alive news partner USA Today contributed to this report.
Read more about the investigation and those involved: click here.