At the age of 20, Brian Bowen has been through quite a ride in the basketball world. The former five-star small forward was famously committed to Louisville before becoming embroiled in an FBI investigation connecting his family (and, specifically, his father) with a pay-for-play scheme. Since then, Bowen never appeared in a college basketball game despite ties to both Louisville and South Carolina, eventually landing with a professional team in Australia after being passed over in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Given his age and talent level, it is certainly possible that Bowen could carve out a long-term path as a professional basketball player and make a strong living in doing so. However, Bowen is now in the news for a different reason, as Matt Norlander of CBS Sports brings word that he is bringing a lawsuit against Adidas (and six individuals involved in the case) for racketeering.
The lawsuit alleges Adidas and those men violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. It is also attempting to establish corruption to the level that it ends Adidas’ hundred-million-dollar sponsorship agreements with Division I men’s basketball teams. Specifically, under the “relief requested” portion of the lawsuit, it reads: “Enjoining Defendant Adidas and its employees, officers, directors, agents, successors, assignees, merged or acquired predecessors, parent or controlling entities, subsidiaries, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with it from engaging in sponsorship of NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs.”
Bowen is far from the first person to shine a light on shoe company practices with regard to the NCAA but his attorney, Mullins McLeod, also released a statement specifically indicating their collective belief that Adidas “has thus far infiltrated college basketball with complete impunity.” Beyond that, one goal of the lawsuit appears to be the removal of Adidas from sponsoring basketball programs, as Bowen’s attorney flatly stated that “it is now time for them to answer for what they have done and to suffer the consequences of their corporate misconduct.”
Quite clearly, this goes beyond Bowen’s individual experience and into the world of high-level college basketball recruiting, just weeks after one of the highly publicized federal trials involving the sport ended in conviction. As an additional part of his statement, McLeod noted the following.
“Adidas spearheaded this criminal racketeering enterprise to coerce the families of top high school basketball players to attend colleges and universities under contract with Adidas to boost the corporate brand and increase profits in the ultra-competitive $25 billion athletic shoe market. Once student athletes, such as Brian, commit to an Adidas sponsored university, they are duty bound to wear Adidas gear and allow Adidas to market their image and likeness for corporate profit.”
It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit progresses, as there seems to be a lofty goal involved in the proceedings. Still, the overarching viewpoint is one that isn’t hard to deduce, as the college basketball world’s ties to shoe companies has been perilous for some time and the Bowen family appears set on illuminating the issues.