If you’re gonna ask the plug for a pair, at least spell “Yeezy” right.
In late September, the FBI announced a major investigation into Adidas‘s alleged payments to college basketball recruits, which resulted in charges being brought against assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, USC, and Oklahoma State, and Adidas Global Marketing Director of Basketball Jim Gatto. The largest pay-to-play sum cited in the Department of Justice’s report was a $100,000 payment from Adidas to a University of Louisville recruit. As a result, Louisville coach Rick Pitino was fired Monday. Adidas also announced that it was ending its relationship with Pitino.
All of this might sound like garden-variety college sports madness. Which it is. But it’s also sneaker-related college sports madness. Pitino’s desire to own a pair of Adidas Yeezy Boost sneakers features in the recent reporting on the scandal, and may wind up in court as evidence of his unsavory relationship with Gatto. In text messages obtained by Spectrum Sports reporter Lyndsey Gough, Pitino allegedly asked Gatto to score him a pair of the highly-coveted “white with black stripes” kicks (likely referring to the colorway known as the “Zebras”), though neither he nor Gatto, in true sneaker-dad fashion, seemed capable of properly spelling “Yeezy.” And while everyone knows that Yeezys are the toughest cop there is, Gatto, a top-level exec at Adidas, made it seem like getting Yeezys was a not-so-easy task—even for him. “There is a newer all white pair that might be easier for me to get,” Gatto wrote.
Now, on the surface, we’re sure there’s anything strictly illegal with Pitino asking an Adidas exec to be the plug on some sneakers. (Even if Pitino, who was slated to make $7.8 million dollars this year, could definitely afford to pay resale price.) However, the texts could indicate that Pitino and Gatto had a sort of “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of relationship. (More concerning is Pitino’s apparent request to Gatto to keep Terry Rozier, a former Louisville player now with the Boston Celtics, signed with Adidas.) Whether or not Pitino, alleged recipient of more than a million dollars from the Three Stripes, received his Yeezys remains an open question. We’re pretty sure this has dropped down his to-do list.