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College Basketball Scandal Explained in Plain English

HERO Sports logo HERO Sports 9/26/2017 Colt Kesselring

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Here's what we know for sure about the college basketball scandal breaking Tuesday. If you have already read the basic facts, scroll down to the breakdown section to learn why this was illegal.

College Basketball Scandal Facts

On Tuesday morning, the Department of Justice announced fraud and corruption charges had been brought against 10 people involved in the world of college basketball -- including four coaches.

The indicted coaches are Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans, Auburn's Chuck Person, Arizona's Emanuel Richardson and USC's Tony Bland. Also charged are the head of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League (as of 2013) Merl Code, Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto, NBA agent Christian Dawkins, financial advisor Munish Sood, former NBA official and founder of Thompson Bespoke Clothing Rashan Michel, and the president of the nonprofit The League Initiative Jonathan Brad Augustine. 

RELATED: The 4 Assistant College Basketball Coaches Charged in Adidas Bribery and Corruption Scandal

College basketball scandals don't get much bigger than this. It seems as though the arrests have only just begun.


According to ESPN.com, the coaches were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer college basketball stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisers. 

In the Tuesday press conference (per ESPN), acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said, "the picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one. 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."

"For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March," Kim said. "Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes."

So what happened here? Let's talk about the basics.

College Basketball Scandal Breakdown

Kim said money was secretly paid to top recruits, upwards of $100,000 in some cases. At first glance this doesn't seem illegal. Against NCAA rules for SURE, but not illegal. The fraud and corruption happened because the coaches and apparel companies tried to do this secretly and skirt NCAA rules. 

If Nike or Adidas paid an 18-year-old high school graduate to sign with their brand, it wouldn't be illegal. But it would disqualify them from NCAA competition. To get around this, the brands allegedly funneled money through college coaches to players families. 


So here's how it allegedly went: sportswear companies paid basketball players and their families to sign with schools they sponsor. They also paid these top recruits to ensure they would sign with hand-picked agents before they went to the NBA.

Coaches seem like they got the best of the deal in that they received money, recruits, and sponsorship deals for their compliance. All they had to do was sign recruits and pressure them to sign with certain managers and advisors. 


​But wait there's more:


This will not end here.

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