Oklahoma State Fires Associate Basketball Coach Amid FBI Investigation

Sep 26, 2017

Updated: September 28, 2017 at 7:22 p.m. CST

Oklahoma State University has terminated associate head basketball coach Lamont Evans for cause, following the filing of multiple fraud and corruption charges.

Evans was charged on Tuesday with bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Travel Act conspiracy. He faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.

Updated at 3:08 p.m. CST

Oklahoma State University has suspended associate head basketball coach Lamont Evans amidst bribery charges.

The university released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

“Based on the serious and troubling allegations in the complaint, Oklahoma State University has suspended assistant coach Lamont Evans. We are cooperating with federal officials. We have been in contact with the NCAA and will provide additional information as it becomes available. OSU takes seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department and does not tolerate any deviation from those standards.”

ORIGINAL POST:

Federal agents have arrested Oklahoma State University associate head basketball coach Lamont Evans, former NBA star Chuck Person and several other college basketball coaches, in a bribery and fraud case that also involves sports management agents and a top executive at Adidas. In all 10 people were arrested.

Describing the "dark underbelly of college basketball," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim of the Southern District of New York said investigators believe bribes were paid to lure top recruits to elite programs — and to affiliate those players with sportswear deals at those universities. Other payments were made to coaches so they would steer young players toward financial and business advisers, in what Kim called an abuse of trust.

"In exchange for bribes ranging from $13,000 to almost $100,000 each," Kim said, "these coaches allegedly pushed particular managers and advisers on the players and their families."

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."

By gaining access to top recruits, Kim said, some of those involved in the scheme sought to control the players and to command cash payments over their choice of a college — and by extension, the apparel they would wear as part of that school's endorsement and sponsorship deal.

Oklahoma State released a statement regarding the allegations Tuesday morning:

“We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials. We are reviewing and investigating the allegations. We are cooperating fully with officials. Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards.”

In addition to Evans and Person, who is an associate head coach at Auburn University, the arrested coaches include Emanuel "Book" Richardson, an assistant coach at the University of Arizona; and assistant coach Tony Bland of the University of Southern California.

Also arrested were James "Jim" Gatto, Adidas' director of global sports marketing for basketball and Merl Code, who reportedly has current or former ties to both Adidas and to Nike. Another person affiliated with Adidas, Jonathan Brad Augustine, was also arrested. The managers and advisers who were arrested include Christian Dawkins, Rashan Michel, and investment adviser Munish Sood.

"For these men, bribing coaches was a business investment," Kim said of Dawkins, Michel, and Sood. And the big payoff, he said, would come when they young players went pro.

Kim quoted Dawkins saying in a recorded conversation, "If we take care of everybody, we control everything — you can make millions off of one kid."

Announcing the charges at a news conference Tuesday, Kim and federal investigators laid out their allegations about two fraudulent schemes: one that revolved between coaches, players, and the players' managers or advisers; and another that revolved between people affiliated with Adidas, players, and coaches at NCAA Division I universities.

The wide-ranging charges include allegations that universities agreed to "provide athletic scholarships to student-athletes who, in truth and in fact, were ineligible to compete as a result of the bribe payments."