How College Athletics, Sports Apparel Probe Began

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The federal investigation that sent shock waves through college athletics and the sports apparel industry this week began in 2014, when a little-known financial adviser to a few professional athletes in Pittsburgh became an FBI informant, the Washington Post reports. That November, according to court documents unsealed in New York, Marty Blazer agreed to help the FBI investigate the black market surrounding major college sports. Since 2000, Blazer later would admit, he had paid college athletes if they agreed to become his clients when they turned pro, and he could introduce FBI agents to others he had met along the way. Three years later, that investigation burst into public view Tuesday, with the arrests of 10 men, including four assistant basketball coaches at major schools and a top Adidas executive accused of arranging six-figure bribes for basketball recruits.

How far the fallout from this investigation extends — how many schools, coaches and athletes will be implicated — likely depends on conversations that will take place over the next few months between prosecutors and lawyers for the 10 men arrested this week on charges that include conspiracies to commit money laundering, wire fraud and bribery. Prosecutors probably will apply pressure as they seek evidence against people not named in the complaints unsealed Tuesday: “Senior Executive-1” with Adidas; “Coach-2,” who works at the University of  Louisville; and others at schools referred to without descriptions who apparently also were bidding for players. In one wiretapped conversation, Adidas executive Jim Gatto discussed paying one high school player $100,000 and then was informed by an underling that another school — sponsored by a rival apparel company — was willing to pay $150,000.

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