LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A federal judge has dismissed a racketeering lawsuit filed by former Louisville basketball player Brian Bowen against Adidas, among others, ruling Bowen could not prove he had been directly harmed by the shoe company’s actions and his suit lacks proper standing.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Anderson ruled on Wednesday that while Bowen’s life was “upended” by the revelations that his father was paid by Adidas employees and his college basketball career at UofL ended, “they are not relevant to the (RICO) statutory standing requirements.”
In essence, the South Carolina judge ruled Bowen could not prove that his damages were caused by RICO claims - that there was an organized plot by Adidas.
“Zeal alone cannot cure the deficiencies in (Bowen’s) RICO claims,” the judge ruled.
RICO charges, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization charges, can apply to any situation where an organization or group of people commit criminal acts for the benefit of the group or company they work for.
Adidas has argued 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 2018 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.
But Judge Anderson ruled that UofL did not withdraw Bowen’s scholarship, though he was withheld from the basketball team. Bowen transferred to the University of South Carolina “and effectively exchanged (his scholarship) for another full scholarship from that institution,” according to the ruling.
Bowen’s argument is “impassioned” and a “compelling story” but unsupported by sound legal principles, the judge said in his ruling.
The judge also called it “too speculative” to presume playing college basketball would have led to a career playing professional.
So the loss of professional earnings claim in the lawsuit was a “mere expectation” and not a sufficient requirement of injury to business or property necessary under a RICO filing, the judge ruled.
The judge even cited the example of an offensive lineman who played football in South Carolina and was first-team all-ACC three times, yet went undrafted.
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, according to the judge, "was a small spoke in a much larger wheel of the broader recruitment scandals and challenges currently facing college basketball."
Attorneys for Adidas had asked a judge to dismiss the suit, in part, because of the admission by Bowen’s father to taking money to secure his son's commitment is what derailed his son’s career.
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.
But the judge ruled he did not need to address the merits of that argument.
Bowen was 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.
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.
The judge ruled the lawsuit was dismissed in its entirety. The ruling can be appealed.
Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.