Analysis: CBB under pressure after 10 FBI arrests

Louisville, Adidas found in connection to major money recruitment scandal

Photo courtesy of | Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was fired after the FBI uncovered a major recruiting scandal involving the school’s basketball program and 2017 ESPN 100 recruit Brian Bowen. Four assistant basketball coaches and Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto were arrested.

Consider briefly a time in your life when you went about completing a task using the same method for an extended period of time. You never really stopped to think that what you were doing was incorrect because, simply, you thought everyone did what you were doing the same way and that was the only way to go about the task. Then all of a sudden, one day, you were told what you were doing was wrong, unethical and against the federal law. That may be a drastic oversimplification, but in an extended way, that is what NCAA basketball is facing within the debacle of the current FBI investigation surrounding the payment of players and the coaches involved in the corruption.

On the morning of Sept. 26, the FBI announced that it had arrested 10 individuals — four assistant coaches along with marketing and financial representatives —who had assisted in the payment of recruits to play for their schools. Adidas, the brand most closely linked with this initial breach of news, saw one of its most prominent individuals, James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing, arrested for his involvement.

You may notice that the arrested coaches were assistants. Yet, the name that circulated immediately following the release of the report was Louisville’s head coach Rick Pitino, who allegedly helped funnel $100,000 to Brian Bowen. Bowen suddenly committed to Louisville in early June after pursuing other recruitments, and he has since been suspended by the NCAA.

This was just the latest in a string of scandals for Pitino and ultimately led to his firing. In 2015, he came under fire when it was discovered that an assistant paid and hired escorts to entertain recruits and current players. As a result of the scandal, the school elected to self-impose a postseason ban and lowered its number of available scholarships. Pitino had been at Louisville since 2001, and he was fired alongside Athletic Director Tom Jurich, the man who orchestrated the rise of nearly every Louisville sport to national prominence.

Student-athletes are not allowed to be paid for their performance. What these marketing representatives hope is that through paying players, they will eventually sign with their company once they leave school for the NBA.

What does this mean for the NCAA? Well, after a recent report suggested there would be more reports released in the near future, it seems this is going to be an issue that changes the landscape of college basketball. It will change the way recruiting is handled and the way shoe companies go after high school players. It will also have trickle-down effects through the entire system of basketball. Or at least, it should.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported the day these allegations were released that one high-major coach texted him and said, “It’s about time this (stuff) broke. I will sleep like a baby tonight.” No, not all programs are built on under-the-table deals and shady ope nrations. Many programs operate within the rules and recruit at a high level in a permissible manner.

Frankly, many of these coaches probably were not even aware that they were breaking federal law. The NCAA is not a law-enforcement body; it doesn’t have the legal power of the FBI. The FBI decided to get involved, and from the sound of it, they’re launching an all-out attack and cracking down on what has become commonplace within NCAA recruiting. The FBI came in and made it known that the way coaches were going about recruiting, a task completed countless times, needed to be dramatically changed.

By: Paul Fristchner ~Staff Writer~