ORLANDO — The easiest, cleanest way to get the money from Adidas to the high school recruit and his family, the men agreed according to a federal complaint, was to launder it through the nonprofit headquartered here, in a five-bedroom home with blue siding, a brick walkway and a well-manicured lawn in the middle of a nondescript suburban neighborhood about 30 miles from Disney World.
The nonprofit was controlled by Brad Augustine, director of an Adidas-sponsored Orlando-area club basketball program who met with several other men in a Las Vegas hotel room on the night of July 27, according to the FBI. The purpose of the meeting, a complaint later stated, was to arrange payments from Adidas to an unnamed high school basketball player and his family to ensure the player eventually attended Louisville, whose basketball team is sponsored by the shoe company.
“All my kids will be [Company-1, later identified as Adidas] kids,” Augustine promised the men, who included a Louisville assistant coach, a sports agent and an undercover FBI agent recording the conversation, a complaint later stated. The FBI also had hidden video cameras in the room.
Before he left, Augustine grabbed an envelope from the FBI agent, according to the complaint, containing $12,700 cash, the first of what would be a series of payments intended to land Rick Pitino’s Cardinals another top recruit in 2019.
In late September, Augustine was arrested along with nine other men as part of a wide-ranging, ongoing FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball. The most immediate ramifications of the arrests and the allegations outlined in federal complaints have been felt in Louisville, where Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich quickly lost their jobs. Both men have denied knowledge of any bribes paid to land recruits.
In Florida, the federal investigation has triggered a round of fierce denials from officials at the University of Miami and the Adidas-sponsored club team 1 Family and silence from a coach with Tampa-area ties who worked at Louisville until early October.
Augustine, who faces charges that include wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, did not return messages, and his attorney declined to comment. An Orlando native, Augustine played college basketball at Division II Southeastern University in Lakeland. In 2011, according to his LinkedIn page, Augustine started serving as president of the League Initiative, the nonprofit that federal prosecutors say he and others planned to use to funnel money from Adidas to recruits.
The League Initiative was headquartered in the Orlando home of Chris Singleton, a former Florida State basketball player and 2011 Washington Wizards draft pick who, after leaving the NBA in 2014, has played overseas in Japan, Russia and Greece. Singleton did not return messages seeking comment. The nonprofit’s mission, according to documents filed with the state, is “to enhance the lives of youth by exposing them to opportunities that will realize their potential including support for education, mentorship, and fitness.”
The League Initiative was in some way connected to the Adidas-sponsored travel team 1 Family, according to the FBI, and Augustine was director of programs for the team. Days after Augustine’s arrest, 1 Family released a statement that said Augustine had stepped down.
Two 1 Family players were referenced in the complaints: “Player-11,” whom the men met in Las Vegas to discuss steering to Louisville, and “Player-12,” whom Adidas executive Jim Gatto and an Adidas contractor discussed on a wiretapped call paying to attend a university later identified as Miami, according to the complaint.
1 Family has disputed allegations that any of its players or their families were involved in taking bribes.
“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,” the team’s statement read.
Gatto and the contractor were considering paying “Player-12” and his family $150,000 to attend Miami, the complaint alleged, only because “Coach-3” at the school had requested the bribe. A rival school, sponsored by a rival athletic apparel company, was offering a “substantial sum of money,” according to the FBI.
Last week, Miami Coach Jim Larranaga told reporters he and his legal team concluded that he was Coach-3 and denied knowledge of any bribes paid to his team’s recruits.
“I cannot state more emphatically that I absolutely have no knowledge of any wrongdoing by any member of our staff and I certainly have never engaged in the conduct that some have speculated about,” Larranaga said.
“I have tried to live every single one of my 68 years on this earth with integrity, character and humility. . . . To have those values that I cherish so dearly even questioned is disheartening and disappointing,” Larranaga said.
Larranaga’s lawyers also circulated signed statements from Nassir Little — a 1 Family player speculated to be Player-12 — and his father saying they never accepted money, nor had they ever spoken to any of the men arrested about arranging payments. Little, who had been considering Miami and Arizona — a Nike-sponsored school — among his top choices, ultimately committed to North Carolina last month.
Around Louisville, the unnamed coach who prosecutors say attended the July 27 meeting in the Las Vegas hotel room is widely speculated to be Jordan Fair, a 28-year-old assistant who just joined the staff in March.
Pitino, in a radio interview Wednesday night, implicated Fair as the coach at that meeting, stating that the young assistant “did the wrong thing by stepping in that room, and he has to speak up . . . and not hide behind lawyers.” Louisville fired Fair early last month.
Fair has not replied to several messages seeking comment. A Tampa-area native, Fair was a coach at Oldsmar Christian Academy, a small, private school in the city’s suburbs, where his program produced so many Division I recruits he drew Pitino’s attention.
In an interview outside his Tampa-area home last month, Harold Fair, Jordan’s father, denied his son was involved in any wrongdoing.
“This is all just speculation. He hasn’t been charged with any crime,” Harold Fair said. “He’s a young coach who got the chance to work with one of the greatest, biggest coaches in the history of basketball.”
Harold Fair declined to put a reporter in contact with his son. Before ending the interview, he expressed concern that his son had been made “a pawn” and emphasized repeatedly that whatever his son had actually done, he didn’t decide to do it on his own.
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