Thiel as scandal ripens, huskies, adidas hook up sportspress northwest

In case you thought the feds were too busy investigating the White House, the FBI had enough depth Tuesday to bring fresh indictments against two more men’s college basketball programs, Kansas and North Carolina State, in its continuing investigation of systematic bribery schemes steering players to certain schools that put money in the pockets of players from agents and sports apparel companies.

Gatto was the head of global marketing for the company whose North American headquarters is in Portland, where he worked. Code, a former star at Clemson, was a contractor who worked out of South Carolina, where he coached a high-profile youth team.

The charges claim these guys helped Adidas offer $100,000 to the family of Brian Bowen, a five-star recruit out of Saginaw, Mich., sought by Louisville, an Adidas school.

After charges were announced, Bowen was suspended and transferred to South Carolina, coach Rick Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich were fired, and Gatto was put on administrative leave by Adidas.

The UW, of course, is merely doing business like every other Power 5 conference school — profiting handsomely from transactions that have the added benefit of no profit-sharing with the uniformed employees who are the principal reason consumers might see the school’s choice of laundry.

The principal reason college basketball is up to its rims in felony charges is because numerous of its employees are using illegal means to bribe players who are otherwise unable to make money playing ball, despite the revenue capacity of the NCAA to make it so.

If the NCAA (which is, remember, a trade association, not sharia law imposed by ISIS), simply decided to pay its players through the front door instead of the back door, its executives and coaches could keep their cognac and Cuban cigars, and no one would care.

But Adidas, along with fellow apparel makers Nike and Under Armour, keep throwing money at universities for the privilege of association with the brand, not the athlete, who is fenced off from the transaction via the principle of amateurism.

In UW’s new deal starting in 2019, which inspired them to drop the Nike brand, the school will receive annually from Adidas $5.275 million in cash, $5.58 million in product and $1.1 million for marketing. And if the Huskies win Pac-12 or national championships, bonuses up to $500,000 will be paid.

But it also exacerbates the potential for corruption between schools and apparel companies at a time when it took federal intervention to finally pull back the covers for all to see the bed bugs, cooties and other varmints that sustain the enterprise.

Meantime, the sport sits in a corner and quivers, awaiting the next release of indictments. The reason for the pathetic posture is that the NCAA by itself is absolutely reform-proof, meaning an outside entity must impose order. The FBI doesn’t care who Bill Self is.

The Washington deal must be approved by the Board of Regents, which it undoubtedly will do. But it would be most amusing if one of its members had the courage to ask, “Outside of North Korea, where would this highly profitable system built on the backs of uncompensated labor be allowed to exist?”