Flickr / Edwin Torres
The FBI arrested 10 people on charges of charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball on Tuesday.
The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that four college basketball coaches at Auburn and Oklahoma State University and had been arrested, as well as managers, financial advisors, and representatives of a major international sportswear company.
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the arrests were part of a “wide-ranging” investigation focused on financial advisors, agents, and apparel companies paid coaches, in exchange for pressuring players to associate with certain entities.
The multi-million dollar battle for top-tier college basketball teams is hard fought amongst sportswear giants. The visibility of being worn by a certain team or high-profile player is a valuable marketing opportunity for apparel companies, despite the fact that NCAA players cannot be paid to endorse brands.
In the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Nike was the clear leader, providing uniforms for 41 entrants, the Baltimore Sun reported. Addidas provided outfits for 14 teams, Under Armour outfitted 10 teams, and Russell Athletic outfitted three.
Under Armour has made major investments in college basketball in recent years. In 2016, the company made a $ 280 million agreement to replace Adidas as the UCLA men’s basketball team’s shoe and apparel sponsor for the next 15 years. Under Armour has also cut deals in recent deals with teams including Notre Dame, Auburn, and Wisconsin.