UofL men’s basketball Coach Rick Pitino at the June 15 press conference reacting to the NCAA penalties | Screenshot of video by Peter Champelli

University of Louisville interim President Greg Postel confirmed Tuesday afternoon that its men’s basketball program is involved in a federal indictment involving multiple schools, which alleges that one or more of the UofL coaches was involved in a scheme this summer to bribe recruits into attending the university.

Federal prosecutors in New York announced 10 indictments Tuesday morning involving a nationwide FBI sting probing fraud and corruption at NCAA men’s basketball programs, in which sports agents and apparel companies coordinated with assistant coaches to offer bribes that steered players to attend certain schools — calling this “the dark underbelly of college basketball.”

Assistant coaches for Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona and USC were charged with taking bribes in the sting, and while the University of Louisville was not specifically named, one of the indictments alleges in detail how a coach from a school meeting UofL’s description was involved in a $100,000 payment — by a top executive of Adidas — to land a star basketball recruit.

The indictment asserts that Jim Gatto — the director of global marketing for Adidas Basketball — and three other individuals paid $100,000 to the family of a star recruit in order to help one or more coaches from “University-6” land the player. The unnamed school was described as being a public research university in Kentucky with the exact enrollment from last fall as UofL, which also has a lucrative contract with Adidas.

While the recruit in question is not named, the indictment says that “Player-10” had “indicated a desire to attend a number of rival schools” that did not include “University-6,” but on around June 3 — right after the bribe scheme was allegedly agreed to — this player surprisingly committed to that school. The timeline and description of these alleged events appears to suggest that this refers to UofL recruit Brian Bowen.

Elsewhere in the indictment, the defendants are alleged to have worked with the same UofL coach on another scheme to bribe a different player to the school. In this section, UofL is described as already being on probation with the NCAA, with one of its coaches allegedly involved in the scheme stating that “we gotta be very low key.” One of the defendants is also quoted as saying — on FBI videotape in a Las Vegas hotel room — that a “Coach-2” at UofL could also help secure payments for the player, saying “no one swings a bigger dick than (him).”

UofL faced harsh penalties from the NCAA this year for its escort scandal, in which a former assistant coach arranged strippers and sex for recruits and players over several years. UofL is currently appealing parts of that penalty, such as vacating its wins over this period, including its national championship in 2013.

This afternoon, UofL’s interim president Gregory Postel issued a statement confirming that “University-6” in the indictment refers to UofL.

“Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting,” stated Postel. “While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated.”

“We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter,” added Postel.

Tuesday morning, the spokesman for the UofL Athletic Association told IL that he was just learning about the indictments and did not have any information. As of Tuesday afternoon, the department — nor athletics director Tom Jurich and Coach Rick Pitino — had issued a statement.

Claudia Lange, the spokeswoman for Adidas, said in a statement to IL that “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.”

At a noon press conference on the indictments, Joon Kim — the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — laid out the two different schemes: the first of which involving the direct bribe of assistant coaches and the second involving the bribes sent to recruits in coordination with unnamed coaches. Kim said that while the indictments did not name “Company-1,” “University-6” or “University-7” — the latter of which appears to describe the University of Miami — their identity could be easily determined by an internet search.

Kim noted that their investigation was able to gain the evidence to expose the schemes “through a cooperating witness and two undercover agents posing as corrupt advisers and financial backers. And we obtained numerous court-authorized wiretaps and made hundreds of consensual recordings.” He added that if one were to read the transcripts of these conversations within the indictments, “you will find yourselves in the dark underbelly of college basketball.”

It is still not known why “Coach-1” from the indictment was not charged for their role in the scheme to bribe recruits, while the four assistant coaches from other school’s who personally accepted the bribes were indicted.

NCAA president Mark Emmert also released a statement late Tuesday afternoon, saying the nature of the charges brought by the federal government are “deeply disturbing.”

“We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior,” stated Emmert. “Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”

The full indictment involving the school that appears to be UofL can be read below:

Federal indictment of James Gatto Et Al by insiderlouisville on Scribd

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]