On March 2, 2020, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. declined to dismiss a civil lawsuit against Adidas and others in order for the lawsuit to proceed. The suit was brought in by Brian Bowen II, a former University of Louisville basketball recruit, who claims the NCAA corruption scandal cost him opportunities in both college and professional basketball.
Specifically, Judge Anderson ruled that Bowen can continue to bring claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal law that provides a civil cause of action for acts committed as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Bowen alleges that Adidas, its executives and former employees committed wire fraud to promote an illegal program to bribe the families of potential athletic students in order to overly influence athletes to attend Adidas-sponsored schools.
As we previously reported, Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen Sr., took a stand in October 2018 to testify in the federal criminal case against this college basketball corruption program. According to federal prosecutors, Adidas officials and others plotted to pay Bowen’s family $ 100,000 in exchange for his commitment to Louisville. According to a financial advisor, he met with Bowen Sr. in July 2017 and gave him $ 19,400 on Adidas’ behalf. The counselor said a second payment of $ 25,000 was planned but never made, given numerous arrests related to the case. Bowen Sr. stated that he had never told his son or anyone in Louisville that he was taking money from Adidas.
Bowen Sr. testified that he received a cash payment of $ 1,300 from an ex-Louisville assistant coach Kenny Johnson to help secure his son’s commitment to the school. During his testimony, prosecutors questioned Bowen Sr. about his text messages with Johnson arranging a meeting to exchange the payment. Bowen Sr. said he has also received payments from coaches in other schools.
The criminal case led to the conviction of Adidas marketing director James Gatto and advisor Merl Code. Both appeal to their beliefs. The scheme was discovered before Bowen had the opportunity to play basketball for Louisville. When the NCAA discovered such corruption, it found that Bowen was ineligible to play due to violating NCAA rules.
Bowen now claims that Adidas and others’ corruption cost him his basketball career. As of July 2019, Bowen signed a deal with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers agreeing to play in Australia for a year and then pace up and down the subordinate G League.
In response to the civil lawsuit, Adidas released a statement stating, “As noted, Adidas is committed to ethical and fair business practices and we look forward to continuing to work with the NCAA and other stakeholders to improve the environment around the college Basketball.”