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Ex-AAU Coach Gary Franklin Alleges Nike Funneled Payments to Recruits' Parents

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 7, 2020

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 08:  Detail view of basketball with Nike Swoosh logo on the court during the game between the Syracuse Orange and the Georgetown Hoyas at the Carrier Dome on December 8, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeats Georgetown 72-71. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Gary Franklin, who founded and coached the AAU team California Supreme, testified Friday that Nike employees ordered him to pay tens of thousands of dollars to the parents and handlers of three prized recruits. 

Per Mark Schlabach of ESPN, Franklin also said those Nike employees told him to "submit fraudulent invoices to the company for reimbursement."

The players in question are Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton, Denver Nuggets big man Bol Bol and ex-UNLV star Brandon McCoy, who is now with the G League's Wisconsin Herd.

Franklin said the payments occurred in June 2016, when all three were in high school.

Schlabach outlined the alleged payments:

"Franklin testified that in June 2016 he helped facilitate $30,000 to Melvin McDonald, a California-based trainer who worked with Ayton and Bol; $15,000 to Shaun Manning, who was McCoy's handler; and $15,000 to Andrea Ayton, Ayton's mother.

"Franklin also testified that he flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix to deliver $10,000 more in cash to Andrea Ayton."

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Franklin then said Nike EYBL director Carlton DeBose told him to submit a $60,000 invoice to Nike for a "California Supreme back-to-school event and travel expenses for his program's 15- and 16-year-old team," per Schlabach.

The testimony was part of celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti's ongoing criminal trial in which he's accused of attempting to extort as much as $25 million from Nike to keep quiet about the company's alleged and improper payments to top recruits.

Amateur basketball has come under the spotlight of the federal government in recent years. In addition to the ongoing Avenatti trial, the FBI is investigating numerous men's college hoops programs for alleged illegal payments to players.

According to Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated, the NCAA, in turn, has sent Notices of Allegations to TCU, USC, Kansas, Oklahoma State and North Carolina State.

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