House Energy and Commerce Committee Requests Hearing on FBI NCAA Probe

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 16: The NCAA logo is seen in the second half of the game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The United States House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee made a request Thursday to receive a briefing from the NCAA and the sports apparel companies involved in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball. 

Committee chairman Greg Walden and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. released a joint statement about the desire to receive more information about the probe:

"The federal government's investigation into sports companies and basketball coaches at numerous colleges across the nation is extremely troubling and puts into serious question the NCAA's ability to oversee its own institutions. In addition to any criminal activities, these allegations raise concerns about the effects of these predatory schemes on youth athletes and how hidden financial connections between advertisers and endorsers influence young consumers. We are requesting that the NCAA and the involved companies brief the committee on the actions they are taking to ensure that similar schemes are not happening in other sports, and how they intend to prevent it from happening in the future."

Shachar Peled of CNN reported Tuesday four assistant coaches—Chuck Person (Auburn), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Tony Bland (USC) and Emanuel Richardson (Arizona)—were among 10 people arrested in the FBI's investigation into what acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim called the "dark underbelly of college basketball."

"All of those charged today contributed to a pay-to-play culture that has no business in college basketball," said Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York division.

The federal complaints filed also allege apparel company Adidas "paid bribes directly to student athletes and their families" in order to secure a recruit's commitment to a certain school, per CNN.

One example listed in court documents involved Brian Bowen, who reportedly chose to attend the University of Louisville after receiving a "commitment" from Adidas executive Jim Gatto to funnel $100,000 to his family to join the Cardinals, according to ESPN.com.

Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave as the school looked into the matter.

NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement after news of the wide-ranging scandal became public Tuesday:

"The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing. 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."

No timetable was set for the potential meeting between members of the involved parties and the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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