Dana Altman responds to corruption allegations, ‘We do not pay players’

Oregon men’s basketball head coach Dana Altman addressed the media for the first time since his program was named during a college basketball recruiting corruption trial, stating that “the claims that have been focused at our program are all false.”

The claims, made on Tuesday by Casey Donnelly, the attorney for Adidas executive Jim Gatto charged with two counts of wire fraud, was that Oregon offered an “astronomical” amount of money to five-star recruit Brian Bowen, who eventually committed to Louisville.

“We do not pay players,” Altman said. “We never have. We never will.”

The college basketball world was rocked over a year ago when an FBI investigation revealed under-the-table payments from apparel companies to top college basketball recruits with the intent that they will sign with a specific school. Oregon had not been named at any point in the controversy until this week.

“Oregon, a Nike school, offered [Bowen] an astronomical amount of money if he’d go to Oregon,” Donnelly said, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Brian Bowen Sr. testified on Thursday, stating, “I don’t recall that,” when asked about an offer from Oregon.

Oregon was also accused of offering $5,000 to former Duck Troy Brown Jr. for “Mayweather tickets,” according to Yahoo! Sports. The payment came from Christian Dawkins, who is charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

Altman was unaware if the University of Oregon had reached out to Brown. Altman is not concerned with the trials going forward, and states he is not aware of any Nike or booster involvement.

The UO responded to the accusations with this statement:

“A claim was made in federal court this week that the University of Oregon offered money to a prospective student-athlete in men’s basketball. The UO takes this claim very seriously.

We have reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the case to ascertain whether any evidence exists to substantiate this claim. They have not yet responded to our inquiry. To date, the UO has never been contacted by federal authorities or any other parties involved in this or any other current criminal or civil case related to recruiting in men’s college basketball.

Last year, in response to allegations of fraudulent recruiting practices within college basketball, the UO conducted interviews with members of the men’s basketball staff and reviewed player recruiting practices. That review found no evidence that the UO had used monetary offerings to prospective student-athletes or their family members to entice them to attend the UO. After the claim was made in federal court this week, we again spoke with members of the men’s basketball coaching staff and, again, found no evidence that illicit conduct occurred.

Based on all of the information currently available, we feel confident that coach Dana Altman and members of his staff uphold the highest standards of integrity in recruiting. Coach Altman is one of the nation’s most respected men’s basketball coaches, and we are proud of his strong track record of success on and off the court.

We will continue to closely monitor proceedings from the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.”

Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917

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