1Family Hoops, the Orlando-based AAU basketball program whose director Jonathan Brad Augustine was among 10 people arrested Tuesday in the FBI probe into college basketball recruiting, went to Twitter on Thursday to defend one of its players, highly-touted recruit Nassir Little.
Although Little’s name does not appear anywhere in the 100-page indictment, he became linked to the bribery and corruption scandal because he plays for Augustine’s team, and two of the five schools he announced as his finalists – the University of Arizona and University of Miami – were implicated in the report.
Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson was charged and arrested. An unnamed Miami assistant coach is under investigation, as is a student recruit, UM President Julio Frenk confirmed in a statement on Wednesday night.
“The Little family did not ask for, nor were offered money by any institution or individual,” read the 1Family Hoops statement on Twitter. “They were completely unaware of any of the alleged offenses that may have mentioned or contained their son’s name. There is not one single player in our program, nor family member of any player, that had any knowledge or discussion about payments being made in regards to making a college decision. We stand by this 100 percent and will allow the truth to come out as this process unfolds.”
The phone calls implicating UM were between Aug. 9 and Aug. 12, according to the report. Little, a 6-6 forward from Orlando Christian Prep, had announced he had narrowed his college list to North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Arizona and Georgia Tech.
Through wiretaps, the FBI recorded conversations between Aug. 9 and Aug. 12 that indicated Miami, sponsored by Adidas, was in a bidding war with a school sponsored by a rival clothing company (likely Nike) over a top-level Class of 2018 recruit. In the call, Adidas director of global marketing Jim Gatto and his associate Merl Code (both arrested) discuss plans for a payment of up to $150,000 to entice the player to attend the Adidas-sponsored school. Augustine is mentioned as a facilitator in the proposed deal.
“James Gatto, aka Jim, and Merl Code (an Adidas employee), the defendants, spoke twice on telephone calls that were intercepted,” said the report.
“During those calls, Gatto and Code discussed, among, other things, Coach-3’s request to Gatto that Company-1 (Adidas) make a $150,000 payment to Player-12 in order to prevent him from committing to attend another NCAA Division I university sponsored by a rival athletic apparel company that allegedly had offered Player-12 a substantial sum of money.”
There was another call in which Code and Gatto discussed the involvement of Augustine and sports agent Christian Dawkins, also arrested, “in the scheme to facilitate payments to Player-12 in order to secure Player-12’s commitment to attend University-7 (believed to be Miami, based on the description as a “private research university in the state of Florida with approximately 16,000 students” and fields “approximately 15 Division I teams, including men’s basketball.”