Nike paid associates of Bol Bol, Deandre Ayton and Brandon McCoy, Michael Avenatti claims in Final Four document dump Updated Apr 7, 11:02 AM; Posted Apr 6, 2019 692 296 shares By Brad Schmidt | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti crashed college basketball’s Final Four in strategic fashion Saturday, releasing several dozen documents he claims show shoe giant Nike made payments to associates of three amateur basketball players, including former Oregon star Bol Bol.
“If I’m lying or the docs are not legit, I challenge @nike to issue a stmt claiming no bribes were ever paid. Just Do It Nike!” Avenatti wrote on a Twitter message, posted at 9:01 a.m., linking to the documents.
Avenatti has been charged by federal prosecutors with trying to extort upwards of $20 million from Nike. Avenatti told Nike officials last month he had damaging information alleging improper payments and threatened to release it if the company didn’t pony up.
Avenatti on Saturday released documents he claims show Nike paid money to associates of Bol, Deandre Ayton and Brandon McCoy.
The document dump followed Avenatti’s tweets on Friday that publicly questioned if Nike paid money to the mother of basketball phenom Zion Williamson for “consulting services.” Williamson played one season at Nike-sponsored Duke and is expected to be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Nike on Saturday declined to answer written questions about whether its employees directed payments to players. Nike also declined to address whether it challenged the authenticity of Avenatti’s documents or if the employees Avenatti accused of impropriety are still employed by the company.
“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the tournament," the company said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. "Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”
Michael Avenatti ✔ @MichaelAvenatti · Apr 6, 2019 1/2 - Here is a link to only SOME of the evidence showing Nike bribed players to attend "Nike" colleges. This evidence is now in the hands of law enforcement. Nike bribed over 100 players as part of their scheme and purposely hid the payments from the NCAA & fed investigators...
Michael Avenatti ✔ @MichaelAvenatti 2/2 - Nike should be criminally indicted on well over 200 counts and should also explain why they misled their investors/the SEC. If I'm lying or the docs are not legit, I challenge @nike to issue a stmt claiming no bribes were ever paid. Just Do It Nike!https://www.dropbox.com/s/ruwyotghvprxg7b/Nike%20Corruption.pdf?dl=0 …
3,959 9:01 AM - Apr 6, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy
Nike Corruption.pdf Shared with Dropbox
dropbox.com 2,211 people are talking about this Avenatti’s claims have focused attention squarely on Nike, which until now has largely avoided the stench of an ongoing federal investigation into the corruption of college basketball. Federal prosecutors have won convictions against former Adidas personnel who steered payments to top high-school players while assistant college coaches have been convicted of taking bribes.
Avenatti claimed on Twitter Saturday that Nike did the same thing as Adidas but “purposely hid the payments from the NCAA & fed investigators."
“I’m still waiting for @nike to call me a liar and state they have not been bribing players for years to go to ‘Nike’ colleges in violation of countless federal statutes,” Avenatti wrote about an hour before releasing the documents.
The documents disclosed include alleged bank records and text messages involving Gary Franklin, a basketball coach who used to work on Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League circuit for top high-school age talent. Franklin coached a team called California Supreme Basketball, which counts Bol, Ayton and McCoy as alumni.
Avenatti claims Nike paid Franklin tens of thousands of dollars in 2017 and Franklin paid that money to Melvin McDonald, who is described as Bol’s “handler.”
Bol, son of former NBA player Manute Bol, was one of the highest-ranked high school players in America at the time. He committed in November 2017 to play at Oregon, which is sponsored by Nike. Bol just wrapped up an injury-plagued freshman year and has announced he’ll declare for the NBA Draft.
Nike paid Franklin’s California Supreme $36,000 on April 10, 2017, bank documents released by Avenatti appear to show. One day later, Franklin wired $29,528.34 to American All-Star Basketball, a nonprofit that lists McDonald as its director, the records suggest.
Dana Altman, Oregon men’s basketball coach, confirmed last week that Bol and McDonald know each other.
“What the relationship is, I’m not quite sure,” Altman said, “but they definitely know each other.”
Avenatti also claims Franklin submitted a false invoice to Nike on June 12, 2017, seeking $15,000 for a “Middle School Challenge" but the money was really for McDonald.
Nike paid Franklin $15,000 on June 15, 2017, the alleged bank statements suggest. Later that month, on June 28, McDonald sent a wire for $12,500 to McDonald’s nonprofit, the documents appear to show.
Avenatti released text messages he said are between Franklin and a Nike employee, Jamal James, from that time. Franklin asks how much he’s supposed to pay.
“Give him $12,500.00,” James allegedly responds.
“Need that done today,” James added.
Franklin questioned if he was supposed to pay for his own travel.
“G, figure that out later I just need you to complete our agreement with him asap,” James allegedly responds.
The University of Oregon on Saturday did not answer written questions about whether officials believe the allegations swirling around Bol have merit, or what steps, if any, will be taken to address the matter. Officials also did not address whether Oregon spoke with Bol or his family about the allegations or whether the university has been contacted by federal authorities or the NCAA.
“As we have stated previously, and per our normal protocol, we conducted an in-depth review last summer into the amateur status of our student-athletes that revealed no indication of improper payments made to any student-athletes or their families,” Molly Blancett, a university spokeswoman, said in a statement. “In this specific case, the amateurism certification review was a joint collaboration between the Oregon Compliance department and the NCAA Eligibility Center staff.”
McDonald could not be reached Saturday. A phone call to the number listed for American All-Star Basketball rang before cutting out, with no option to leave a message.
McDonald previously responded to a text message from a reporter at The Oregonian/OregonLive on March 26, after Avenatti’s allegations about Nike became public. But after the reporter identified himself McDonald did not respond to additional texts.
McDonald’s nonprofit has been flush with cash, according to publicly available tax documents. The nonprofit reported revenues of $732,167 in its two most recent tax years. Only two people are involved in the nonprofit: McDonald and his wife, Stephanie, who is the chief executive.
The nonprofit lists a variety of broad expenses, including travel, coaching/training, player assistance/support, accommodations and meals. The only expense to a named entity is $83,504 paid to the SCA Group sometime before Sept. 2016. SCA is the Southern California All-Stars, a nonprofit that lists Pat Barrett as chief executive. Barrett has previously been accused of receiving payments to steer players, such as Kevin Love, toward certain agents.
Avenatti also released documents Saturday he claims link Nike to alleged payments to two others: Ayton, who played for Nike-sponsored Arizona before becoming the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and McCoy, who played for Nike-sponsored UNLV.
Avenatti had previously released documentation alleging a $10,000 payment between Nike and Ayton’s mother, Andrea. But on Saturday, Avenatti disclosed more records purportedly showing Nike money being paid to McDonald, who also was Ayton’s “handler.”
Bank records show a $30,000 deposit into Franklin’s grassroots basketball account on April 4, 2016. The bank documents don’t show the source of the funds, but Avenatti claims it was a “Nike check.”
The same day, the records suggest, $28,000 was wired by Franklin to McDonald’s nonprofit.
Two months later, on June 20, 2016, Franklin was again asking for money from Nike -- allegedly at the direction of Nike’s top grassroots official, Carlton DeBose.
According to a text exchange allegedly between the two men, DeBose directed Franklin to submit an invoice.
“Send me an invoice for $60K. $30K line item for 16U, 15U travel expenses, $30K for CA Supreme Back to School Event Sponsorship,” DeBose allegedly wrote.
Franklin submitted a matching invoice, the records suggest. Franklin’s account received a $60,000 “counter credit” on June 27, 2016, although the source isn’t identified in bank statements.
Avenatti claims Franklin used that $60,000 from Nike to pay the following, although not all the claims are supported with documentation:
$30,000 to McDonald in his role as Ayton’s handler $15,000 to Shaun Manning, the guardian of McCoy $10,000 to Ayton’s mother, Andrea $5,000 related to travel expenses for Ayton’s family Avenatti also released an undated text message allegedly between Franklin and DeBose indicating urgency.
Franklin told DeBose “the sooner the better bcuz Manning is on me as to when and I have a deadline with my cc”
Avenatti released texts allegedly between Franklin and Manning from June 30, 2016, only a few days after Franklin got $60,000 into his account.
Franklin asks Manning if he wants a money order or cashier’s check.
“I thought he said cash but u can put it in my name,” Manning responds.
The texts suggest Franklin met Manning later that day to “drop” a “bag to u.”
1. "My thing is... the FBI already had all of this." In response to Reply # 0 Mon Apr-08-19 12:43 PM by Frank Longo
It's absolutely wild to me that Avenatti thought he could blackmail Nike in the first place... but *especially* that he thought he could blackmail Nike with information that will all eventually be public anyway due to the FBI investigation. Everyone already knew Ayton, Bol, and McCoy had been paid since the FBI's initial announcement about Christian Dawkins IIRC (Ayton and McCoy were definitely on there, at least). It's interesting to see how they knew and what types of evidence they're using to build a case... but there's nothing new in there, really, so I just don't understand Avenatti's endgame here.
He continues to tease out these Zion Williamson allegations without providing any evidence or documents to back up this, the only new/explosive claim he's made. If you're facing jail time for trying to extort Nike, and then you keep hinting that you'll reveal something about Nike in the future... that *can't* be helping your case. Especially since, as we already saw with the Ayton/Bol/McCoy stuff, it's exceedingly likely that the FBI has any documents pertaining Zion's families interactions with Nike already anyway.
So either: a) Avenatti's got the goods on Zion's mom, but so does the FBI, so it doesn't matter, or b) Avenatti knows there's no hard evidence on Zion's mom and just wants to tarnish Nike/Zion publicly out of spite before heading to jail.
As a Duke fan, I obviously *hope* b is the case, lol. Either way, nothing to do but wait and see.
Same for seeing which coaches get implicated across D1 and which don't-- a surprisingly low number of coaches, even assistants, have been connected to this case to date. It'd be great if, like, sixty coaches were implicated so that the NCAA really had the lid ripped off of it, and they'd have to seriously reconsider everything they've been doing. Something like that would expedite the movement for players to get paid somehow, imo. My fear is this investigation will *actually* implicate 3-4 head coaches and a few assistants, but it'll mostly just be shoe company execs, AAU folks, agents, and player family members, so the NCAA will dismiss the coaches as "a few bad eggs" and everything will proceed business as usual.
"If you're facing jail time for trying to extort Nike, and then you keep hinting that you'll reveal something about Nike in the future... that *can't* be helping your case. Especially since, as we already saw with the Ayton/Bol/McCoy stuff, it's exceedingly likely that the FBI has any documents pertaining Zion's families interactions with Nike already anyway."
You don't find it strange that he threatened to make the allegations at a press conference during the tourney...and THEN he's arrested...?
"b) Avenatti knows there's no hard evidence on Zion's mom and just wants to tarnish Nike/Zion publicly out of spite before heading to jail."
Again, the threat came before the criminal charges against him
>"b) Avenatti knows there's no hard evidence on Zion's mom and >just wants to tarnish Nike/Zion publicly out of spite before >heading to jail." > >Again, the threat came before the criminal charges against >him
He didn't mention Zion before the criminal charges. He just mentioned he had documents on players. No specific players were mentioned before the charges were brought.
>You don't find it strange that he threatened to make the allegations at a press conference >during the tourney...and THEN he's arrested...?"
Maybe I don't understand the question. No, I don't find it weird that the FBI let Avenatti take his blackmail to a grander, more public scale before letting him know he's being charged. They wanted to catch the guy in the act. I feel like this is part of every cop show ever.