Federal prosecutors indicted four NCAA men’s basketball assistant coaches on charges of fraud and corruption.
One of them, Lamont Evans, worked under current University of Illinois head coach Brad Underwood when Underwood was the head coach at Oklahoma State University.
The other three assistant coaches charged are Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, and Tony Bland of the University of Southern California.
Prosecutors also indicted James Gatto, the Director of Global Marketing for Adidas.
Authorities say agents and financial advisers paid bribes to assistant coaches to get them to introduce them to star college players and their parents before the students turned professional.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said these charges paint an ugly picture of college basketball.
“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,” Kim said at a news conference Tuesday in New York.
The University of Illinois athletic department released the following statement late Tuesday evening:
"We watched with the rest of the country as today's news unfolded regarding alleged corruption in corners of major-college basketball. We have continued to monitor the situation throughout the day and are not aware of any information to suggest involvement in today's allegations by any member of our men's basketball staff. We will support any and all efforts to ensure the integrity of our great game."
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Adidas said it's unaware of any misconduct at its company in a college basketball bribe-paying scheme but will "fully cooperate with authorities."
Auburn University has suspended Person without pay effective immediately.
"The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. "We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”
- Illinois Public Radio's Brian Moline and the Associated Press contributed to this report.