North Carolina State, Kansas Facing New Charges In NCAA Basketball Recruiting Scandal
Kansas, North Carolina State Charges NCAA Basketball Scandal
The Jayhawks and Wolfpack were both formally indicted Tuesday. Both schools are accused of having ties to former Adidas executive James Gatto. Gatto — who served as the apparel company’s global sports marketing director for basketball — allegedly conspired with other individuals to pay a rising NBA star’s father $40,000 to persuade the player to attend NC State. The description of the player in question suggests it is former Wolfpack point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks since he was drafted as a first-round pick in 2017.
Many of the other colleges charged by the FBI in the recruiting scandal — a list that includes Louisville and Miami — are accused of committing similar violations: bribing players and their families to steer them toward certain schools and sponsors, including Adidas. Former Michigan State star Miles Bridges’ mother was linked to the FBI investigation in February. Documents revealed Bridges’ mother is tied to an associate of former NBA agent Andy Miller and his sports agency. Bridges declared for the 2018 NBA Draft after MSU was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
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One Adidas consultant, who was unnamed in federal prosecutors’ indictment and was referred to merely as “CC-3,” is believed to have been heavily involved in both the Kansas and NC State controversies. According to the New York Times — which cited two unnamed sources with knowledge of the probe — T.J. Gassnola is CC-3. Gassnola reportedly led a youth basketball team in Massachusetts that was sponsored by Adidas.
Gatto has pled not guilty, just like the two other people charged in his case: Merl Code, a former Adidas adviser, and Christian Dawkins, the associate of Miller who was linked to Bridges’ mother. The trial for all three individuals is set to start Oct. 1.
NC State vowed to cooperate with the FBI’s probe in a statement. “As the indictment stated, the payment was designed to be concealed, including from the N.C.A.A. and officials at N.C. State,” the statement read.
Louisville’s involvement in the recruiting scandal — one of several controversies surrounding the Cardinals’ basketball program, including the hiring of escorts for recruits — led to the firing of longtime coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich in September. Pitino later sued both the university and Adidas. Gatto and others allegedly paid large sums to the family of Louisville recruit Brian Bowen.
The latest indictment also names Billy Preston, a youngster who committed to Kansas but never played for the Jayhawks because the university and the NCAA were investigating him. Preston’s mother allegedly was paid at least $90,000 from Adidas through a team she ran. Prosecutors stated, with regard to Preston’s case, that Gatto created fake invoices for items like “Basketball Team Tournaments Fee” to justify the expenses. In total, Adidas reportedly paid the aforementioned team more than $200,000, some of which was meant for Preston’s mother.
The indictment also named Silvio De Sousa, who just finished his freshman season with the Jayhawks.
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