As legislation for college athletes’ NIL rights is being debated, what continues to come out of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball and shoe company payments might be a little overlooked.
Maybe it shouldn’t ($$).
On Monday, the NCAA served Louisville with a Notice of Allegations based largely on evidence produced by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. The most serious charges involve payments that were allegedly arranged by two assistant coaches and a pair of employees at Adidas: Jim Gatto, who was then director of global sports marketing for basketball, and Merl Code, a consultant. The first sentence in the allegation identifies “the Adidas corporation” as a “representative of the institution’s athletic interests.” This is NCAA-speak for “booster,” a term commonly applied to someone who donates to an athletic department.
The booster claim echoed ones that were also made in NOAs the NCAA has served to N.C. State and Kansas.
And here’s the money quote (see what I did there?).
“It kind of shocked me,” says Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who recently served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. “I never thought of it like that. If there’s money changing hands, then yeah, they’re a booster, but I don’t think any of us look at the support we get from sneaker companies and think of that as violations. They’re giving us information to help close the deal (with recruits).” [Emphasis added.]
Interesting to watch a can of worms being opened in real time, but there you are. This has the potential to go in a lot of different directions, if the NCAA so chooses.