In recent years, the United States has begun investigating corruption cases in college basketball, involving dozens of universities including the University of Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina State University, and the University of Miami, as well as a large number of college basketball team coaches. Corrupt practices by some sports brands and basketball coaches violate the National University Sports Association (NCAA) rules.
Several American executives of the well-known sports brand Adidas have been investigated and were sentenced in March this year. This case continues to ferment, more details have been disclosed one after another, and it continues to attract the attention of the American public.
American business and sports are highly developed, and even amateur sports such as college basketball events involve huge monetary benefits. Sports sponsorship, as the forefront of sports marketing, has long been a battleground among major brands.
In the latest case, a number of Adidas executives were exposed to bribe sports elites at great expense, persuaded them to modify their college entrance examination wishes, and instead applied to a number of colleges sponsored by Adidas. contract.
The French media exclaimed: American amateur sports events are linked to money, and all kinds of corruption and chaos have reached such a level. "It's too much!"
At the expense of bribing high school seniors
A number of former senior managers and consultants of Adidas have been arrested in the United States since September last year. In March this year, they were sentenced to prison for bribery, wire fraud and other charges. In addition, the case is still fermenting, new cases are being reported, and the people involved are facing more investigations and allegations.
This case has attracted much attention because it is one of the representative cases of basketball corruption investigations in American colleges and universities. On the one hand, it involves the American sports world that is directly linked to huge commercial interests, and on the other hand, it should be based on people. , Not a prestigious university entangled in monetary interests.
According to a person familiar with the matter, one of the defendants was James Gato, a former marketing director of Adidas. His main crime was to bribe a number of high school basketball talents. The crime was to remit tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars to the parents of the students. Bank account.
Why does a sports brand company spend huge sums of money to bribe high school students? There are three reasons for this.
First, American business and sports are highly developed. Not only do professional basketball projects involve huge commercial benefits, but even college basketball events are tied to money. For example, major sports brand companies sponsor different college basketball teams and college basketball results. Factors such as the athlete's popularity and the company's brand image and performance are related.
For many years, Gato has aimed at many outstanding basketball students. By “plugging money” from their parents, he successfully persuaded these high school students to apply for colleges sponsored by Adidas, and then played corresponding college basketball during college. School team.
Second, after entering the university, these basketball talents continued to receive the attention of Adidas. If their basketball careers develop smoothly and become professional players, then Gatto and others will take advantage of bribery to promote these basketball players to sign sponsorship contracts with Adidas, thereby leaving other sports brand companies behind.
Third, once these basketball talents have changed from amateur players to professional players, Gato still has "another trick", and that is to try to get them to sign a contract with a Christian Dawkins agent. Dawkins started a sports brokerage company with close ties to Gator and Adidas, and his involvement has been seen in multiple bribery cases.
Observers have noted that the US sports industry has important characteristics of commercialization and marketization. Under the huge market and strong sports atmosphere, profitability and expansion are its instincts. However, not only professional events are closely related to monetary benefits, but even university sports events involve huge profits of billions of dollars, so that many university and school team coaches are entangled with sports brand owners and are involved in a series of corruption cases.
According to some media comments, the "amateur sports" in the United States, represented by university sports events, is now investing huge resources to snatch talents and create business income, even at the point of bribery crimes. "It's too much!"
At the same time, in addition to the sports scholarships received by many sports elite students who played for college teams, they did not actually receive a deserved share in sports business income. Are their 4 years of college time reasonable and are their scientific choices in life direction Have caused a lot of controversy and reflection.
Multi-person jail case continues to ferment
After several months of trial of the bribery of three former executives and consultants of Adidas, some of the cases have been clear, and those involved have been sentenced, but more cases are still being fermented.
U.S. District Court Judge Kaplan announced on March 5 that the three defendants were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 6 to 9 months and additional requirements such as return of funds.
Among them, Gadot, a 48-year-old former executive of Adidas, was from Wilsonville, Oregon. He was responsible for adidas' global sports marketing department and was sentenced to 9 months in prison. Sports agent Dawkins, 26, from Atlanta, Georgia, USA , Sentenced to 6 months 'imprisonment; Adelas's consultant, Mel Cod, 45, from Grier, South Carolina, was sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment.
In addition, Dawkins and Cod were ordered to return more than $ 28,000 to the University of Louisville.
As early as last October, the three were convicted by a court of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They have been accused of sending money illegally to the parents of several students, thus “successfully persuading” these elite basketball students to change their minds when filling out university volunteers and instead apply to a number of universities sponsored by Adidas, including the University of Louisville, the University of Kansas, and the University of North Carolina. Carolina State University.
In early April this year, the New York prosecutors made more allegations against the three men. Prosecutors said Gato was suspected of bribing a high school student's parent about $ 40,000 in 2015, enticing the student to apply for North Carolina State University and then signing a sponsorship contract with Adidas after turning into a professional basketball player. Investigations revealed that Gato transferred the student's parents through a college coach, but the prosecutor has not announced the coach's name.
Prosecutors also found that Gator was suspected of conspiring with others in 2016 to transfer at least $ 90,000 to the mother of a senior high school sports student to facilitate the student's admission to the University of Kansas and eventually sign a sponsorship contract with Adidas.
In addition, Gatau is suspected of collaborating with basketball school team coaches at multiple universities to “influence” the selection of schools, sports agents, sneaker sponsors, and even clothing tailors through bribery, involving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.
Several NBA basketball stars have been exposed to bribes from Adidas. Chuck Persson, a former US NBA basketball star, is suspected of participating in sports bribery while serving as an assistant coach at Auburn University in the United States. He is scheduled to be tried in June this year. He claims to be innocent and refuses to acknowledge the allegations.
System calls for rectification
Since the U.S. college basketball scandal was exposed, at least dozens of colleges and universities have been involved in the case, and a large number of college team coaches have been investigated. Among them, Tony Brand, former assistant coach of the University of Southern California, Emmanuel Richardson, former assistant coach of the University of Arizona basketball team, and Lamont Evans, former assistant coach of Oklahoma State University are all under trial. Sentencing recently.
Judge Kaplan said in March when he announced the sentencing that he wanted to use this to "send a big warning signal to the basketball community" and to avoid being too harsh and to prevent harm to the U.S. sports industry and universities.
Not only was Adidas involved in the bribery case, but another well-known sports brand Nike also exposed a similar scandal. U.S. attorney Michael Avenati identified at the end of March that Nike was bribing a sports specialty to lock in sponsorship contracts. However, the lawyer himself faces charges such as extortion, and US prosecutors have not confirmed whether his confession is credible.
Although the defendants such as Gatow, Dawkins, and Cod argued that "there was not even a dime saved in their pockets," the court found that this was not sufficient to prove that the defendants had no economic motive for committing the crime. In fact, the careers of the three defendants are all closely related to the life choices of those sports specialty students, and obviously they have obtained huge business benefits and career boosts.
When Gatto appeared in court, he said with a trembling voice, "I deeply regret my actions."
According to industry insiders, sports sponsorship, as the forefront of sports marketing, has long been a battleground among major brands. Over the past 10 years, the total cost of sports sponsorship worldwide has risen from 37.9 billion U.S. dollars to 65.8 billion U.S. dollars, and it has shown an upward trend every year.
Dawkins blames mechanisms such as the US basketball and college games as "irrational", "This is a mechanism that uses children (profit making) ... I am more aware now than ever before that everything I do is It's not worth it. "
Cod, a former amateur sports federation coach, expressed regret for his actions and called for "it is time to reform the American college basketball system."
Among the parents of the students who took bribes, many regretted it, admitting that they covet the small profits in front of them, but intervened in their children's college entrance exams for "lifetime events." Among them, the father of basketball specialty Brian Bowen said that he had accepted a bribe of 100,000 US dollars to allow his son to apply for the University of Louisville. He cried when he appeared in court to testify that he had ruined his son's basketball career. If it wasn't for his intervention in his son's choice, his son would surely be a successful NBA professional basketball player.
Federal Deputy Prosecutor Robert Huzami criticized that the latest basketball scandal not only damages the reputation and interests of many colleges and universities in the United States, but also affects many talented basketball teenagers. It also "defiles the basketball that many people cherish." (Special correspondent Mu Xi)
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