A Critical Piece on Brian Bowen and Louisville Basketball
By: Zachery Bonzheim
June 2017: Brian Bowen, Small Forward, 6-7, 194 lbs , La Lumiere School, Saginaw MI, Top-20 National Recruit, Consensus Future NBA Player, LOUISVILLE COMMIT
October 2017: Brian Bowen, the center of an FBI investigation surrounding the darkest parts of college basketball.
Brian Bowen is what was you may have inferred from the first line. Bowen was kid built to play basketball and at the highest level. Bowen ended up being a good player with bad people around him.
Bowen was largely recruited by one program throughout high school. This program was Michigan State. Tom Izzo was interested in Bowen going into his sophomore year at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Michigan. Bowen had many influences to attend Michigan State. Jason Richardson, MSU great, ex-NBA player, and Arthur Hill alum is the cousin and mentor to Brian. Bowen was from the same city as one of the best Spartan’s in recent memory, Draymond Green. Izzo was the first to start recruiting Bowen and he was even recruiting his teammates, Tyger Campbell and Jaren Jackson. Jackson eventually committed to Michigan State. Many if not most assumed Bowen would be signing with the Spartans. Look at 24/7’s Crystal Ball prediction. Given all this information, is it fishy that Bowen did not sign with Michigan State? No, well not really. Lots of kids go against the grain or are looking for something new. But there is something definitely off about the Crystal Ball Prediction.
It seems Louisville went from not showing any interest in Bowen and Bowen never naming them in any of his shortlists to signing him in a matter of two months. But wait, the Crystal Ball does not show the whole picture. Bowen went on his first visit to Louisville weeks after wrapping up his original visits. He then signed with the program five days after that visit. Sure this would not draw too much speculation for a small time recruit, but Bowen was the last and the best recruit left in the country by this time. Louisville Coach, Rick Pitino called the signing of Bowen, “luckiest I’ve been” in 40 years of coaching. Some luck, right? I mean to sign a consensus 5-star recruit five days after your only time hosting him and neither side being interested in the other until the visit has gotta be pure luck!
False. This was no coincidence. This was not lucky. This was not even fair.
Brian Bowen signed with Louisville because they paid him and his family $100,000 to play “amateur” basketball. An ongoing FBI investigation uncovered some of the worst that college basketball has to offer and Louisville, Brian Bowen, Coach Pitino, Adidas, and an unnamed assistant are in the middle. The FBI has names for all of the parties involved, leaving clues to the unnamed suspects. “Coach-1” is the unnamed Louisville assistant, “Coach-2” is Rick Pitino, “Player-10” is Brian Bowen, “University-6” is Louisville, and “Company-1” is Adidas. The report also mentions numerous other coaches with corresponding numbers.
So what happened? The Lexington Herald-Leader summarized the transactions as “Beginning in May, according to the federal documents, Adidas officials Jim Gatto, Merl Code, sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood — all now defendants in the federal case — “conspired to illicitly funnel” approximately $100,000 from Adidas to the family of “Player-10” in exchange for his commitment to Louisville. The payment would also ensure that “Player-10” would retain Dawkins and Sood as representatives and sign with Adidas once entering the NBA. The bribe money was structured in a manner so to conceal it from the NCAA and officials at University-6 by, among other things, having Company-1 wire money to third-party consultants who then facilitated cash payments to Player-10’s family.”
Later through wiretapping, spying, investigation, and close financial tracking the FBI was able to finally become involved. When the Adidas representatives and sports agent needed money, the FBI took their chance. The Lexington Herald-Leader continued: “Dawkins (the sports agent) worked with Code to arrange for Sood (the financial adviser) and an undercover FBI agent posing as a financial backer to make an initial $25,000 payment to the player’s family on Adidas’ behalf.”
There was more information obtained through the FBI’s investigation. It is unclear whether the investigation started out as an investigation on Bowen, or if his circumstances shifted their focus. The investigation also showed Louisville’s interest in obtaining “Player-11” through a similar process. Player-11 is an unnamed uncommitted college basketball recruit for an upcoming class. Another huge aspect is that this inadvertently opened a huge case when dealing with apparel companies. At one point Dawkins said that a rival athletic apparel company (which is not named) had been “coming with a higher number” to try and get the player, and he needed more money from Adidas as a result. We can conclude the rival to Adidas is either Under Armor, Jordan, or Nike.
So a Nike, Jordan, or Under Armor school who joined late in the recruiting process placed themselves into the bidding war to sign Bowen. Arizona, Michigan State, and Creighton were the three schools with the best chances at Bowen until Louisville paid their way to sign him. What other school be involved? We can count Michigan State out because they had effectively believed they were going to sign him. So now it’s between Creighton and Arizona. Well the FBI gave us a hint when they announced Arizona assistant coach, Emanuel “Book” Richardson is facing criminal charges with the investigation. In addition, Arizona head coach, Sean Miller, was taken out of commercials for an Arizona credit union following the investigation. Although it is not proven, many have speculated that Bowen received a similar offer from Arizona and Nike, which can be tied back to Emanuel “Book” Richardson.
What has happened as a result? Bowen has been suspended indefinitely from the Cardinal’s program and is not eligible to transfer and play this season. Bowen’s Louisville teammates went on the record saying Bowen was a good person and their friend is still at UL. They did agree that the he brought upset the team as a whole. Rick Pitino has been fired from Louisville and he has put up his Louisville house for sale. Tom Jurich, the now ex-athletic director of UL has also been let go. Interim Louisville President, Gregory C Pastel, publicly penned the letters which he delivered to Jurich and Pitino. SB Nation published the pictures shown.
David Padgette is now the coach of the Cardinals Men’s Basketball team and takes over a program that was already on NCAA probation for a prostitution scandal. The father of Brian Bowen, Brian Bowen Sr, has not been able to be contacted in the midst of this. Bowen Sr. was mentioned in connection with the transaction multiple times in the FBI reports. Carrie Malecke, Bowen’s mother, has commented that she knew nothing of her son’s or husband’s actions.
Ok, so let’s piece the Bowen story together:
- Bowen was considered to always be a future Michigan State Spartan.
- Both Arizona and Louisville made late and unseen pushed to sign Bowen.
- Louisville, back by Adidas and third parties (including a sports agent), offered Bowen $100,000 at the request of Pitino.
- Pitino and an assistant were planning to do the same thing to a future elite prospect.
- Adidas upped their offer after an unnamed school and company (inferred to be Arizona and Nike) made a competitive offer. Arizona’s assistant is now facing criminal charges.
- Bowen shocks the world and signs with Louisville, the money transactions begin.
- The FBI intervenes with wiretaps and undercover agents discovering possibly the biggest scandal in college basketball.
- Brian Bowen is ineligible for NCAA and is under FBI investigation, not allowing him to play overseas.
- The FBI has indicted multiple institutions, players, coaches, and companies to this point.
- The FBI has made this public so far but are continuing to search in order to prosecute the maximum number of people with the most evidence possible.
- October 2nd: Bowen hires an attorney to gain reinstatement.
So who’s in trouble?
- Brian Bowen- The player
- Brian Bowen Sr.- father of Bowen
- Rick Pitino- ex-Louisville Head Coach
- Coach-1- An unnamed Louisville assistant coach
- Tom Jurich- ex-Louisville athletic director
- Adidas- Company funneling money to amateur athletes
- Jim Gatto- Adidas representative
- Merl Code- Adidas representative
- Christian Dawkins- Sports agent Bowen agreed to terms with
- Jonathan Brad Augustine — Program director for the Orlando-based (and Adidas-sponsored) 1Family AAU team.
- Rashan Michel — Founder and owner of Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a high-end manufacturer based in Atlanta.
- Munish Sood- Financial adviser and backer
- Player-11- An unnamed recruit who agreed to a similar process at Bowen.
- Louisville Cardinals Men’s Basketball Team
- Emanuel “Book” Richardson- Former Arizona assistant ^
- Tony Bland- USC Assistant Coach*
- Lamont Evans- Former South Carolina and Oklahoma State assistant*
- Chuck Person- Auburn assistant coach*
- Kobie Baker- Resigned Alabama Men’s Basketball Administrator**
- Nike’s EYBL AAU league **
- Miami Hurricanes Men’s Basketball- Alleged to be conducting similar practice to Player-12 **
- Player-12- Assumed to be Nassir Little **
- Bruce Pearl- Auburn head coach**
- Brad Underwood- Former Oklahoma State head coach, current Illinois head coach**
- Sean Miller-Arizona head coach**
- Arizona Wildcats Men’s Basketball Team**
- Unnamed Competing Company (inferred to be Nike)**
^ Not conclusive connection to Brian Bowen but assumed
* Indicted by the FBI but not related to Bowen
** Suspects of FBI or being investigated further, no indictments.
(Note: There are many more schools, players, coaches, and outside contributors who have not been named but are part of the investigation. For example, Player-1 through Player-9.)
With all being said, it is going to make for a drama-filled season. How will the committee and voters look at programs such as Louisville, Arizona, and USC this season? All three were seen at title contenders and all three are implicated? Will Louisville be dealt the death penalty for this scandal while still on probation for the prostitution scandal? What will happen of Adidas? Will Nike be indicted and what will happen to their influence if not? Is this the end of shoe sponsored AAU circuits? Did Bowen essentially end his career before it started and did Pitino ruin his Hall of Fame career after it ended? There are so many questions that can and will be answered this upcoming season. Stay tuned to College Hoops Daily for updates, analysis, and opinions on this and other topics.
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