jd adidas superstar Former Clemson basketball player arrested as part of NCAA corruption scandal
A former Clemson basketball player is among 10 people, including four coaches, arrested on charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball, according to Joe Galbraith, Clemson’s Assistant Athletic Director for Communications and court papers.
Merl Code, an Adidas employee, is accused of working alongside Jim Gatto, the head of sports marketing at Adidas, to pay recruits to sign with Adidas sponsored schools and then sign with Adidas once they turned professional, according to the Washington Post.
Code played at Clemson University from 1993 to 1997, Galbraith said. Galbraith said Code went to work for Nike after he graduated and then went to work at Adidas.
Among allegations in court papers were claims that Gatto and others made and concealed bribe payments to high school athletes and their families at least three times this year in exchange for a commitment by the players to play basketball for two universities not identified in court papers.
Investigators said the deals caused universities to provide athletic scholarships to students who should have been ineligible because of the bribes.
In one instance, the complaint said, Gatto and others funneled $100,000 to the family of a high school basketball player to gain his commitment to play at a Division I school whose athletic programs are sponsored by Adidas and to sign with Adidas once he became a professional. It said they paid another high school athlete $150,000 for a similar commitment.
No students were identified in court papers by name.
WYFF News 4 has reached out to Code through Adidas for a response to the allegations and have not heard back.
Greenville attorney Beattie Ashmore is representing Code.
Ashmore told WYFF News 4’s Joe Ripley that Code went before a federal judge in Greenville Tuesday morning.
Ashmore said the judge issued and released on a signature $100,000 bond. That means if Code tried to leave the area, he would have to pay a $100,000 fine, among other penalties, Ashmore said.
Code faces a list of charges including several counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and solicitation of bribes, Ashmore said. Attorney Joon H. Kim at a news conference.
“For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,” Kim said. “Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”
Investigators said the coaches have “enormous influence” over their players and how they select their agents and other advisers when they leave college and enter the NBA.
Code was the starting point guard for the Clemson basketball team his senior year of eligibility, and was on the team that played in the Sweet 16 tournament under Coach Rick Barnes in 1997, sources with the Clemson Athletic Department said.