University of Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, who has maintained all along that he was unjustly linked to an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption, got some good news this week that could help clear his name.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York dropped federal charges against Jonathan Brad Augustine, a former AAU director in Orlando, who was accused of conspiring with an Adidas representative and other associates to funnel money to persuade one high school player to sign with Miami and two to sign with Louisville.
According to an ESPN report, sources close to the investigation said Augustine’s charges were dismissed because he never gave any bribe money from defendants to the high school player in question. Augustine kept the money for himself, the report said.
Nassir Little, who signed with the University of North Carolina, is the player who was being recruited by Miami. Little and his father signed sworn affidavits saying they never were approached by UM, Augustine or anyone else about receiving money to attend Miami.
“I hesitate to say the case against Coach L and Miami blew up because there never was a case,” said Stuart Grossman, an attorney for Larrañaga. “There was never any involvement from UM, Coach Larrañaga, or his assistants. Now, they are dismissing the case against Mr. Augustine, who allegedly said UM was involved, because he intended to keep the money for himself, which further shows UM was not involved.
“We are imploring the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to end this nonsense as far as it concerns the University of Miami. We’re all for investigating corruption in college basketball, but leave UM alone because they had nothing to do with it.”
Grossman said it appears Augustine got money from the shoe company by suggesting, without UM’s or the recruit’s knowledge, that it was needed to steer his player to UM. But he pocketed the money.
An FBI complaint released in September alleged that Augustine accepted $12,700 to steer a Louisville recruit, but was unclear as to whether any payments were ever made toward the $150,000 he and his associates had said were needed to steer the Miami recruit.
The FBI recorded a call in August during which Adidas representative Jim Gatto asked Adidas consultant Merl Code to wait until 2018 to make payments for the Miami recruit.