Federal Bribery Indictments Unsealed Against NCAA Coaches

Eastern Kentucky v Louisville
Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Dec. 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.Joe Robbins / Getty Images

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By Tom Winter and Phil McCausland

Federal courts unsealed a series of indictments on Wednesday against several NCAA basketball coaches and a top Adidas executive that further revealed a pay-to-play culture in college basketball.

According to newly unsealed court documents, "Coach-2" — who NBC News has previously reported is legendary University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino — had met with indicted sports agent Christian Dawkin over payments to players in a July meeting.

The indictment says that Dawkins asked Pitino to call indicted Adidas executive Jim Gatto and ask the company to pay out $100,000 requested by the family of a top basketball recruit.

For the money, the indictments said, the high school recruit would agree to commit to playing at Louisville, sign with Dawkins as his agent and sign a deal with Adidas when he entered the NBA.

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Pitino agreed to make the call, the court documents said.

According to the FBI, phone records show that Pitino made three calls to Gatto prior to the player's commitment to Louisville.

Nevertheless, the legendary basketball coach maintains his innocence, providing a 53-page defense packet that included the results of a voluntary polygraph exam.

"Although I know and have communicated with Gatto by phone and by text, I have never discussed with him — overtly, covertly, in code, through nuance, or in any other way — the provision of improper benefits to an UL basketball player or recruit," Pitino wrote.

During the polygraph test, Pitino said he did not know the recruit's family had been paid, and the examiner said it did not appear his answer was deceptive.

"I have given no 'cause' for termination of my contract," Pitino said in the affidavit, adding, "I will fight tirelessly to defend my reputation."

Pitino, who had been Louisville's coach since 2001, was fired last month after the university's interim president, Greg Postel, revealed that the school's basketball program was part of the FBI bribery prob — which had garnered national attention.

"We simply felt this was in the best interest of the university," Postel said after a unanimous vote by the athletic association board.

Pitino, who led the school to a national championship in 2013 and had been the head coach since 2001, was still owed $44 million on his contract at the time of his termination.

The indictments named Gatto, Dawkins, Auburn University associate head coach Chuck Person, Oklahoma State University assistant coach Lamont Evans, University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson, University of Southern California assistant coach Anthony Bland, former Adidas adviser Merl Code and former NCAA referee Rashan Michel.