NCAA Says Louisville Should've Known Adidas Was Booster in Recruiting Scandal

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2020

FILE - This is a Sept. 17, 2016, file photo showing signage on Papa John' Cardinal Stadium in Louisville Ky. Papa John's, which has featured founder John Schnatter as the face of the company in logos and TV ads, is pulling his image from its marketing after reports he used a racial slur. The University of Louisville said, Friday, July 14, 2018, it will remove the Papa John's name from its football stadium.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

The NCAA enforcement staff said Louisville "knew or should have known that Adidas was its booster" after the school was hit with a notice of allegations accusing it of recruiting violations after an Adidas employee and consultant reportedly offered Brian Bowen II's father $100,000 if the recruit would join the Cardinals basketball program in 2017, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN. 

Louisville had responded to that notice of allegations by claiming that Adidas and its employees didn't represent the school, and that the school was a victim of rogue actions. 

The NCAA wasn't buying Louisville's claims, however: 

"It should have been very clear to Louisville that if Adidas employees offered or arranged to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for a prospect to enroll based on his basketball ability, something not available to the general student population or compliant schools, this conduct would be an NCAA violation attributable to the institution."

The NCAA enforcement team added:

"Adidas' financial contributions to the institution's athletics programs were large, formal and well-known by the institution and its athletics department administration. It is not a violation of NCAA rules for a corporate entity to be a representative of an institution's athletics interests. However, an institution is responsible for NCAA rules violations committed by one of its representatives."

Three men—former Adidas employee James Gatto, aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins and consultant Merl Code—were federally indicted for conspiring to make a $25,000 payment to Bowen's father as a part of the $100,000 bribe. 

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"This offer and $25,000 payment were designed to give Louisville an advantage over compliant programs," the NCAA wrote. "They were intended to provide a recruiting and competitive edge to Louisville not available to other programs."

Louisville was hit with a Level I violation and three Level II for various recruiting infractions under former head coach Rick Pitino, who is now the head coach at Iona. NCAA enforcement said Pitino "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance."