Attorneys: Ex-Louisville player Bowen files racketeering lawsuit against Adidas

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Attorneys for Adidas have asked a judge to dismiss a federal racketeering lawsuit filed by former Louisville basketball player Brian Bowen, arguing, in part, that the admission by Bowen’s father to taking money to secure his son's commitment is what derailed his son’s career.

And Adidas argues there is no evidence the company aided or approved the payments to Bowen, claiming "a few" of its employees specifically discussed concealing the plan to secure funds used to land recruits.

Attorneys for Bowen filed a lawsuit in November in U.S. District Court in South Carolina against Adidas and key figures in the college basketball bribery scandal, claiming they cost Bowen his college eligibility, hurt his earning potential and robbed him of the chance to be a high NBA draft pick.

Bowen enrolled at U of L in 2017 – after his father was promised $100,000 - but never played a game after he was linked to a federal investigation into college basketball corruption.

The FBI's investigation led to the conviction of an Adidas employee and others for wire fraud and conspiracy.

Bowen is seeking unspecified monetary damages and is asking that Adidas be banned from sponsoring men's Division 1 college basketball programs. The Germany-based apparel giant sponsors the University of Louisville's athletic department.

Adidas attorneys argue Bowen lacks standing to bring the suit, his argument that he lost money from a career in the NBA is "speculative" and the loss of his scholarship was his decision when he left U of L, not something the shoe company was involved in.

"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 argues in the answer to the lawsuit. "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."

Adidas argued Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen Sr., took money several times, including from a Nike AAU team, a high school coach and to secure his commitment at U of L - with the admitted understanding that it could jeopardize his son’s eligibility.

While Bowen and his father have both said the teen did not know about his father's transactions, Adidas argues it does not legally matter.

"Bowen cannot now seek to profit as the supposed victim of a scheme allegedly designed to funnel payments to his father from those who reasonably understood his father to be acting as his agent," according to the motion.

Also named as defendants are former Adidas executive James Gatto; Merl Code, a former amateur coach; Christian Dawkins, who coached Bowen’s AAU team; financial adviser Munish Sood; Adidas consultant Thomas Gassnola; and Adidas employee Christopher Rivers.

Bowen's lawsuit accuses Adidas of "annually poaching the country’s top high school basketball recruits and chaining them to the Adidas-brand through increased market share in the ultra-competitive $25 billion athletic shoe market."

It claims that a money laundering scheme lets intermediaries get players to attend Adidas-sponsored universities.

Bowen is playing professionally overseas.

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Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.