Miami Basketball Potentially Implicated in FBI Corruption Probe

TULSA, OK - MARCH 17: Ja'Quan Newton
TULSA, OK - MARCH 17: Ja'Quan Newton /

It’s still unknown what if any part the Miami Basketball program played in a major corruption scandal broke this morning that shook college basketball.

The scandal involves four major college basketball assistant coaches that reportedly accepted bribes to steer players to specific sports agents and financial advisors.

No one from the Miami basketball program has been directly implicated. The Hurricanes have seemed to have been strongly implicated in the scandal indirectly. At the end of a joint press conference from the FBI and US Attorney’s Office, the Hurricanes have seemed to have been implicated without being directly named.

Adidas Director of Global Sports Marketing James Gatto is at the center of the allegations. He is alleged to have bribed coaches in order to get the elite athletes to eventually sign contracts with Adidas. The bribes were reportedly up to $150,000.

Miami is never mentioned directly, but there are strong implications that the Hurricanes are involved in the scandal. Speculation is that the Miami Hurricanes involvement could be through 2018 target Nazir Little of Orlando.

The FBI investigation alleged that a:

"“Top high school basketball player expected to graduate in 2018. The purpose of that was to “assist one or more coaches at University-7 (likely Miami) in securing” the player’s commitment to play at the school, and to “further ensure” the player would sign with Dawkins and Adidas once he entered the pros."

The investigation took two years. It was part of what the FBI called “the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes”. Miami is implicated indirectly in an area of the indictment that reads:

"“Relevant Individuals and Entities”, Gatto (“aka Jim”) is charged with offering to pay a high school student (“Player12”) $150,000 to attend “a private research university located in Florida. With approximately 16,000 students and over 2,600 faculty members, it is one of the state’s largest universities. University-7 fields approximately 15 varsity sports teams in NCAA Division I competition, including men’s basketball.”"

The University of Miami has an official enrollment of 16,801 and US News and World Report list a 12-to-1 Student to teacher ratio at UM per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post.

The Miami Hurricanes Athletic Department released a statement earlier today through Athletic Director Blake James.

"“The University of Miami is aware of the indictments handed down today by the Department of Justice involving several men’s college basketball programs, coaches, financial advisors, agents and apparel executives,” in a statement released by UM athletic director Blake James. “As we are just learning the details, we cannot comment on the actions taken today by federal authorities. However, if requested, we will cooperate in any legal or NCAA review of the matter.”"

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  • Miami switched from Nike to Adidas in 2015. They signed an unprecedented 12-year contract. The speculation varied widely on what Miami’s deal with Adidas is worth. It ran from similar to Arizona State’s eight-year $33 million deal to Louisville’s 12-year $90 million deal.

    Miami’s initial deal with Nike in 1987 was trendsetting. The Hurricanes became the first school to sign an exclusive contract with an apparel company. Legendary then Nike Executive Sonny Vaccaro said of the deal that is allowed one brand to “own the school”.

    The implications for the Miami basketball program in the present and beyond could be devastating. The New Times of Miami reported that the federal complaint alleges that Miami could be involved in the bribery process.

    "“University 7 (likely Miami)” — was involved in the bribery process. An anonymous coach, listed only as “Coach 3,” allegedly spoke with Gatto twice on August 6, 2017. The FBI claims the payments to the recruit were made “at the request of” the anonymous coach. That unnamed coach “knows everything,” two of the people arrested said while being wiretapped, the FBI claims.”"

    This scandal extends far beyond recruiting violations. Gatto and four other defendants wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit the two. Four College Basketball Assistant Coaches are also among those being indicated.

    A file of the entire federal indictment was posted by Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel.  The US Attorney’s office and FBI said in a joint press conference that this is just the “tip of the iceberg”.

    Next: Miami Basketball ACC Schedule Released

    The investigation is on-going and everything has yet to be revealed. Expect the investigation, allegations and fallout to linger throughout the season and maybe beyond.