Today, the FBI served Nike‘s grassroots basketball division, the Elite Youth Basketball League or EYBL, a subpoena as federal prosecutors continue their investigation into the fraud and corruption that has infiltrated college basketball recruiting.
On the morning of Tuesday, September 26, the FBI held a press conference announcing that it had arrested 10 individuals, including assistant coaches at a handful of powerhouse programs, financial advisors, sports agents, and top adidas executives, claiming each played a pivotal role in attempting to persuade high school basketball stars into signing with certain schools or management companies in exchange for large sums of money. Among those adidas employees under investigation is Merl Code, who came over from Nike three years ago after heading up the EYBL program.
ESPN reports “while Nike doesn’t have a direct connection to the case, three of the four assistant coaches who were alleged to have been paid to bring players to an agent and a financial advisor are from Nike schools — Tony Bland of Southern California, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State and Emmanuel Richardson of Arizona.” The fourth coach, Chuck Person, held a position at the Under Armour-sponsored Auburn University, however ESPN’s sources say Under Armour is not currently under investigation.
Nike has yet to comment on the subpoena, however it did issue a statement on Tuesday following the FBI’s news conference, saying it “believes in fair and ethical play, both in business and sports, and strongly opposes any form of manipulation.”