Who is Christian Dawkins and how is he tied to NBA agent Andy Miller?

Gentry Estes
Courier Journal
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim, second from right, and FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr., right, hold a press conference to announce the arrest of four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State on federal corruption charges, Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

How did Christian Dawkins, a 20-something upstart sports agent from Michigan, become the linchpin in a scandal that threatens dozens of college basketball's top programs?

Louisville basketball fans already know Dawkins for his role in bringing down men's basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich, but fans of teams like Kentucky, Kansas and Maryland are about to get a lot more familiar with him.

One former and one current Kentucky basketball player and former Louisville player Brian Bowen were named in documents that appear to indicate NCAA rules violations and published by Yahoo Sports on Friday morning.

Those documents listed expenses for sports agent Andy Miller's company, ASM Sports, for which Christan Dawkins worked. The two have each been tied to the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball, with Dawkins having been indicted for his alleged role in a conspiracy to help Louisville secure Bowen's signature among other allegations.

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In September, ASM’s offices were raided by the FBI and Miller’s computer seized, according to Forbes. In December, the NBA Players Association sent word that Miller had relinquished his certification, meaning he would no longer be able to negotiate players’ contracts, ESPN reported.

Prior to that, Miller had been considered one of the more powerful agents in professional basketball. Those who've been represented by Miller include current NBA stars Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Dwight Howard and former stars like Kevin Garnett. 

Dawkins’ allegedly worked in conjunction with others arrested in the FBI’s sting, including financial advisor Munish Sood and Merl Code, a former Nike employee later hired by Adidas.

The FBI complaint described Dawkins as “a business manager” who had been fired by Miller’s firm in May 2017 and was looking to fund and start his own sports management company. Yet ESPN and other outlets have since reported that Dawkins was still working with ASM during that time.

Dawkins’ road to employment at ASM was the subject of a 2016 lawsuit by his previous employer, International Management Advisors, accusing Dawkins of working to recruit players for Miller and ASM while still working for IMA.

IMA hired Dawkins in April 2014 “to assist in developing relationships with future NBA players such that the players would select IMA to serve as their agent and/or financial advisor during and after their NBA playing career,” according to the lawsuit.

Instead, by January 2015, IMA believed Dawkins instead was working to help ASM and began discussions to terminate his contract, the lawsuit said.

In the lawsuit, which was settled in September 2016, IMA also accused Dawkins of stealing the number of an American Express credit card belonging to IMA that had been issued to NBA guard Elfrid Payton, an IMA client, and using the credit card to charge $42,722 to an Uber account from February 2015 to May 2016. Those Uber chargers were made, the complaint read, “while he was an employee of ASM, and the charges were for ASM’s benefit as Dawkins was recruiting NBA prospects for ASM.”

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Two players being pursued by IMA — Jarell Martin of LSU and K.J. McDaniels of Clemson — ended up signing with ASM, the lawsuit said.

"IMA had a reasonable probability of signing Jarell Martin and K.J. McDaniels due to the investment IMA made in developing Dawkins’ relationship with the players," said the lawsuit, which referenced $61,700 that Dawkins owed IMA for "improper expenditures while employed with IMA."

Miller, who became one of the most powerful agents in the NBA, followed a similar career path. He too was accused in a lawsuit of stealing clients from a previous employer. Eric Fleisher won a $4.6 million judgment in 2002 in a case where Miller was accused of secretly signing clients to take with him when he left Fleisher’s agency in 1999, according to the New York Times.

Miller was described in a 2017 Forbes article as one of Adidas executive James Gatto's "best friends." Gatto, along with Dawkins, has been indicted in the FBI's investigation.

Prior to last year’s revelations, Miller’s ASM Sports represented 10 professional players sponsored by Adidas, a Courier Journal study found, including former Louisville player Peyton Siva.

Gentry Estes: 502-582-4205; gestes@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @Gentry_Estes. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/gentrye