The ever-growing corruption investigation into college basketball has now enmeshed leading apparel company Nike. This comes just days after the FBI charged execs from its top competitor Adidas, among other individuals, for their involvement in an elaborate corruption and bribery scheme.
Nike's grassroots basketball division Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) has been served with a subpoena, according to ESPN, as federal prosecutors and the FBI continue to dig into what acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim termed as the "dark underbelly" of the college basketball world in a press conference on Tuesday.
Although Nike wasn't named in the case documents earlier this week, a former Nike employee-turned Adidas executive, Merl Code, was named as one of 10 defendants in the case. Code is accused of assisting Adidas director of global sports marketing Jim Gatto in conspiring to pay high school players in an attempt to funnel top recruits through Adidas-sponsored schools, increasing the company's chances of securing their signatures once they turned pro.
In the FBI's case, three of the four assistant coaches named as defendants hail from Nike schools: Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emmanuel "Book" Richardson of Arizona, and Tony Bland of Southern California. The fourth assistant, Chuck Person, is an associate head coach at Auburn – an Under Armour school.
Assistant coaches Person, Evans and Richardson have all been suspended by their respective universities in the aftermath of the FBI charges this week, and Bland was placed on administrative leave.