New Adidas lawsuit emerges as KU reviews its options with apparel company; civil suit alleges KU coaches knew of payments

Monday, November 19, 2018

Adidas, the apparel partner that the University of Kansas is trying to decide whether to extend a multimillion dollar scholarship agreement with, now is facing a civil lawsuit alleging racketeering.

Former Louisville and South Carolina player Brian Bowen II has sued Adidas and several associates caught up in the college basketball corruption scandal alleging federal racketeering violations that cost him the chance to develop his game.

Bowen's lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in South Carolina. It has asked for unspecified damages and says Bowen and other players targeted by Adidas' "criminal racketing enterprise" were denied the chance to grow their talents in college on the way to becoming professionals.

"Adidas has thus far infiltrated college basketball with complete impunity. It is now time for them to answer for what they have done and to suffer the consequences of their corporate misconduct," attorney Mullin McLeod said.

The lawsuit, among other items, alleges that KU coaches Bill Self and Kurtis Townsend knew of illegal payments that were made to KU player Silvio De Sousa. Self and Townsend, however, are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Several former Adidas employees who had direct contact with the KU basketball program, however, are named defendants in the lawsuit. Jim Gatto and Merl Code, who both were convicted of federal fraud charges are named, and so, too, is T.J. Gassnola, who has plead guilty to a related fraud charge.

If the lawsuit proceeds, Bowen’s attorneys could seek documentation from KU, or potentially could seek to depose Self, Townsend or other KU officials as part of the legal case.

The new lawsuit comes at a time when KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said the university is continuing to review its options as it relates to the extension of its apparel partnership with Adidas. That partnership ends in July. An extension could be worth more than $190 million over a 10-year period to KU.

Adidas did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

It was alleged that the scheme involved giving Bowen's father $100,000 to have his son play for Louisville.

The younger Bowen enrolled at Louisville in the fall of 2017, but never played a game. He transferred to South Carolina for the spring semester and left in May when it became apparent the NCAA would keep him from playing for longer than Bowen hoped.

Bowen took part in the NBA's Draft Combine last spring and is playing professionally in Australia.

He has denied any wrongdoing and knowledge of his father's plans.

"I have always felt that Brian was the true victim of everything that transpired with Adidas," said attorney Jason A. Setchen, who represented Bowen II in his NCAA case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.