Fallout from the federal bribery probe that resulted in the arrest of Auburn associate head basketball coach Chuck Person continues to expand.
Person has been charged on six federal counts in an alleged bribery and corruption scheme to steer Auburn basketball players to a financial advisor in exchange for money, according to the affidavit unsealed this week.
The biggest developments since federal officials released the complaints on Tuesday have been Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Zurich being placed on leave as well as the resignation of University of Alabama Associate Athletic Director Kobie Baker.
A lawyer for Pitino said the basketball coach had "in effect, been fired."
Pitino's suspension stems from an alleged agreement by Adidas executive Jim Gatto to funnel $100,000 to secure the commitment of an unnamed high school athlete to attend Louisville and sign with the company after turning pro.
Baker resigned from his post with Alabama after the athletic department conducted an internal review and he reportedly admitted to being the "Staff Member 1" referred to in the FBI complaint. Staff Member 1 allegedly received payments through Rashan Michel from the FBI informant, both of whom were also at the center of the charges against Person.
Auburn has subsequently suspended Person without pay, and the fallout from his arrest has also hit Auburn's 2018 recruiting class, with five-star power forward E.J. Montgomery decommiting from the Tigers on Wednesday.
“This morning’s news is shocking. We are saddened, angry and disappointed. We have suspended Coach Person without pay effective immediately. We are committed to playing by the rules, and that’s what we expect from our coaches. In the meantime, Auburn is working closely with law enforcement, and we will help them in their investigation in any way we can,” said a statement released by Auburn University on Tuesday.
The complaint contains descriptions and quotes from numerous recorded meetings, phone calls and text messages between the informant, Person, Auburn players and their families and Michel.
Person allegedly agreed to accept $50,000 from an anonymous individual (CW-1), referred to as a financial advisor and business manager for professional athletes, who was working as an informant with federal law enforcement.
According to the affidavit, Person met with the anonymous informant and Michel at a restaurant in Auburn on Nov. 29, 2016 and agreed to accept approximately $50,000 to steer the unnamed Auburn student-athlete (Player-1) to the informant and Michel, a clothier who is also named as a defendant.
About two weeks later, on Dec. 12, Person, Michel, the unnamed Auburn student-athlete and the informant met in Manhattan, New York, where they discussed “in sum and substance and in part, that Player-1 would retain the services of Michel and CW-1 upon becoming a professional basketball player,” according to the complaint.
The complaint provides details on the meeting, including that "Person then informed Player-1 that he and CW-1 would 'sit down with your mom and we'll come up with something. We can help you out.' "
The complaint continues, saying that Person told the player that the most important part is that "you don't say nothing to anybody, don't discuss that you know with your sisters ... just you and your mom and [your stepfather] ... but don't share with your sisters, don't share with your teammates, that's very important because this is a violation ... of rules, but this is how NBA players get it done, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships, they form trust, you get to know (CW-1), you get to know Rashan (Michel) a lot and like Rashan can get you suits and stuff ... you'll start looking like an NBA ball player, that's what you are."
Person then allegedly accepted $15,000 in cash immediately after the meeting.
When Person later met with Player-1's mother, he allegedly touted that Charles Barkley and himself had retained the services of the financial advisor (CW-1), which the complaint states is false.
Person also allegedly accepted money steering another Auburn player toward the informant after the first of the year.
In total, Person is alleged to have accepted $91,500 in bribes from the informant, who provided the sums at the direction of law enforcement, over a 10-month period.
He’s also accused of delivering about $18,500 to family members of two Auburn players.
The charges include bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and travel act conspiracy.
The affidavit states that Michel, who had a pre-existing relationship with Person, is a former college and NBA referee and also operated a clothing store in Atlanta that specialized in making bespoke suits for professional athletes. He allegedly initially arranged the bribe payments.
The complaint also details that Person allegedly arranged to make direct payments to the families of the players he was steering to the informant, which also defrauded Auburn University.
“Indeed, for the scheme to succeed and the financial aid to be awarded, Person and the student-athletes would be required to falsely certify to the universities that they were unaware of any NCAA rules violations, including the illegal payments,” the complaint states.
Person was one of several college assistant coaches indicted this week on bribery and corruption charges.
“These coaches abused the trust placed in them by the players and their families,” said Joon Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The unnamed informant began working with the government around November 2014.