NYDailyNews Four college basketball assistant coaches and a top sneaker company executive were busted in a wide-ranging bribery and corruption probe of NCAA hoops, officials said Tuesday. The best known of the 10 defendants nailed by prosecutors was former NBA star Chuck Person, a first-round draft pick of the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and a long-time tormentor of the Knicks. Person, now the associate head coach at his alma mater Auburn, was accused along with assistants Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona and Anthony Bland of USC. “For the ten charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,” said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim. “Month after month, the defendants allegedly exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country.” Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto was also nabbed in the probe, along with two other defendants affiliated with the athletic wear company. Gatto was involved in funneling $150,000 to the family of one high school hoops star and $100,000 to another player in return for their commitment to a specific university, authorities charged. The court papers did not identify any of the college athletes involved. The charges against various defendants included wire fraud, bribery and conspiracy. Three “advisors” to the athletes were also named in the court papers unsealed by federal prosecutors. Richardson, a well-connected recruiter with New York ties, is known as “Book.” The offensive-minded Person was dubbed “The Rifleman” during a 13-year career spent with five teams.
A college basketball probe uncovered major corruption by top assistant coaches at several universities, including bribery committed by former NBA star Chuck Person at Auburn, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona and Anthony Bland of USC, four institutions that have bent or broke NCAA rules in the past. These coaches apparently used Adidas head of marketing James Gatto to funnel money to the families of high school players, and in exchange, those players attended the universities in question. This is going to be a fascinating story, more information will be coming out shortly, and it’s going to get very ugly.