Attorneys for Adidas have asked a federal judge to dismiss former Louisville basketball player Brian Bowen II's lawsuit, alleging that Bowen's father -- and not the shoe company -- derailed his college basketball career.
Louisville officials ruled Bowen, a five-star recruit from Saginaw, Michigan, ineligible after an FBI investigation uncovered that an Adidas employee and others conspired to pay his father $100,000 for him to sign with the Cardinals.
After Bowen transferred to South Carolina, the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2018-19 season. Bowen, 20, never played a game in college and is playing professionally in Australia.
In November 2018, Bowen sued Adidas, Adidas employees Chris Rivers and James Gatto, former Adidas consultants Merl Code and Thomas "T.J." Gassnola, former NBA runner Christian Dawkins and financial manager Munish Sood, alleging they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act by engaging in bribery, fraud and money laundering at the expense of his eligibility and athletic development.
"Bowen purports to decry the state of amateur basketball in this country, but through the actions of his father over many years, Bowen was an active participant in and beneficiary of endemic recruiting violations," Adidas lawyers wrote in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in South Carolina on Wednesday.
"The Complaint is a cynical attempt to recover indirect damages from his father's alleged co-conspirators for speculative injuries that he has not suffered and which he may never incur. Even crediting Bowen's declarations of innocence -- which the court must at this stage -- a careful analysis of the Complaint's allegations show that it fails to state a claim under RICO and must be dismissed."
Brian Bowen Sr., a former police officer, testified in federal court in October that he received thousands of dollars from Gassnola, Dawkins and Rivers for his son to play for Adidas-affiliated grassroots programs. Sood also testified that Bowen Sr. received $19,400 in cash as the first of four payments for Bowen II to attend Louisville.
Bowen Sr. also testified that a handful of colleges, including Arizona, Creighton, Oklahoma State and Texas, offered him tens of thousands of dollars in cash and other improper benefits for his son to play basketball at those schools.
Bowen II has maintained that he was unaware of his father's schemes.
Gatto, Code and Dawkins were convicted of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October's trial; Sood and Gassnola testified after reaching plea deals with federal prosecutors.
Rivers hasn't been charged in any of the cases.
"The injuries Bowen alleges, such as losing the experience of playing collegiate basketball or reduced future earnings on a hypothetical contract to play in the National Basketball Association, are almost entirely speculative expectation damages or intangible harms that cannot be collected under RICO," Adidas' lawyers wrote in the complaint.
"The lone exception is Bowen's purported lost scholarship at UofL. ... UofL's statement demonstrates that Bowen retained his scholarship even after being withheld from playing basketball and voluntarily relinquished it when he decided to leave UofL."