An attorney representing Adidas executive Jim Gatto alleged Tuesday that Oregon offered an "astronomical amount of money" to basketball recruit Brian Bowen, according to reporters covering Gatto's criminal trial in New York City.
Gatto and two other men are charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with Bowen's recruitment. Gatto, a Wilsonville resident who served as head of global marketing for Adidas, is accused of agreeing to send $100,000 to Bowen's family in exchange for his commitment to Louisville, a school sponsored by Adidas.
Gatto's defense attorney, Casey Donnelly, alleged in her opening statement that Bowen received a similar offer from someone connected with Oregon's basketball program.
“Oregon, a Nike school, offered (Bowen) an astronomical amount of money if he’d go to Oregon,” Donnelly said, according to Yahoo Sports.
This is the first time Oregon has been directly implicated in the wide-ranging federal investigation involving the influence of shoe companies in basketball recruiting. Offering money to a recruit would constitute a violation of NCAA rules and a potential violation of federal law.
In her opening statement, Donnelly acknowledged that Gatto broke NCAA rules but said those actions were not illegal.
"NCAA rules were broken," Donnelly said. "We are not going to waste your time pretending these families did not get funds."
Bowen committed to Louisville in 2017 but was suspended and later ruled ineligible by the NCAA. He now plays professionally in Australia.
Through a spokesman, Oregon released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"The university is aware of the claim made by a defense attorney in New York’s U.S. District Court as part of opening statements in a criminal trial related to college basketball recruiting. To date, the University of Oregon has not been contacted by the federal government or any other party involved in these proceedings. We take the claim seriously and will monitor the court proceedings closely for any further details."
Oregon coach Dana Altman did not respond to an interview request placed with a UO official. Altman is scheduled to hold a preseason press conference Friday afternoon and will appear at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco on Oct. 11.
A representative for the law firm representing Gatto, Willkie Farr & Gallagher of New York, did not respond to a request for clarification about Donnelly's opening statements.
The Ducks began practice Saturday in preparation for the season that is set to begin at home against Portland State on Nov. 6.