State Colleges

Jim Larrañaga’s lawyers: UM, coach to avoid bribery indictments

Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga gives instructions to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Boston College Eagles at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga gives instructions to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Boston College Eagles at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

The attorneys for University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga expect indictments to be issued as early as next week in a federal probe into bribery on the college recruiting circuit; and they said they feel certain neither Larrañaga nor any member of his staff will be indicted.

“When the indictments come down, we don’t expect coach Larrañaga or anybody at UM to be indicted or arrested,” said attorney Stuart Z. Grossman. “We turned over all the records and relevant documents, and there is no evidence he or his staff were involved in any way with improper recruiting. Hopefully, we’ll get to finally hear or read in a transcript how [Larrañaga’s] name was used in those wire-tap conversations because the report just says two guys were talking about something a third guy said about Coach L. We fully believe in Jim’s innocence.”

Although UM and Larrañaga were not mentioned by name in the FBI’s criminal complaint, they were identified as “University-7” and “Coach-3” and linked to the section of the report in which Orlando AAU coach Brad Augustine, sports agent Christian Dawkins, and two Adidas representatives (Merl Code and Jim Gatto) allegedly conspired to funnel $150,000 to a high school recruit, believed to be Nassir Little of Orlando, in order to secure his commitment to Adidas-sponsored UM and then to steer him to hire Dawkins.

In one recorded conversation Aug. 9, as Dawkins and Code are discussing the deal, Dawkins told Code that, according to Augustine, “Coach-3 knows everything.” Another call on Aug. 11 suggests “Coach-3” requested to Gatto that Adidas pay $150,000 to the player to keep him from committing to a rival school sponsored by a rival apparel company (University of Arizona-Nike).

Little and his father, Harold, both signed sworn affidavits saying they never discussed or solicited payments from UM or any other university or any shoe company. Little committed to the University of North Carolina last week.

There are also phone records, though no recordings, of two calls on Aug. 6 between the cellphones of Gatto and “a cellphone believed to be used by Coach-3.” The report says the calls were about Little meeting with an Adidas executive at an event between Aug. 3-7. Larrañaga’s attorneys said those calls involved the coach discussing with Gatto the Adidas Nation showcase event in Houston on Aug. 4-6, which Little attended, as did current UM players Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown.

“Coach L was inquiring about Little’s [injured] ankle, about what Little was saying, and how his players did, and other normal things that a coach would talk about,” attorney Ed Shohat said. “Never was any kind of payment discussed.”

Larrañaga’s attorneys said they believe Larrañaga is the “Coach-3” alluded to in the report, but he has nothing to hide. “Coach L is probably Coach 3, and we are happy and relieved by that because we know he is innocent and has done nothing wrong.”

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