Sports

Defendants guilty on all counts in FBI college basketball corruption trial

The recruitment of NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr.

Fayetteville's Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the most sought after recruits in America and committed to NC State in 2015. He was he highest-rated recruit to commit to the Wolfpack and coach Mark Gottfried.
Up Next
Fayetteville's Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the most sought after recruits in America and committed to NC State in 2015. He was he highest-rated recruit to commit to the Wolfpack and coach Mark Gottfried.

Three defendants were found guilty on all seven counts in the college basketball corruption trial on Wednesday.

Adidas executive Jim Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and would-be agent Christian Dawkins were guilty of wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The jury, composed of eight women and four men had deliberated since Monday at the Moynihan United States Courthouse.

Defense attorneys had conceded that their clients violated NCAA rules by paying the families of players who committed to Louisville (Brian Bowen), Kansas (Billy Preston) and N.C. State (Dennis Smith Jr.) because they wanted those players to attend Adidas-sponsored schools, but they denied they had committed any federal crimes.

Gatto’s defense attorney Michael Schacter said he will appeal the verdict. Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney, also said his client would appeal.

Dawkins’ father, Lou Dawkins, was in tears after the verdict.

Adidas released a statement shortly afterward.

“We cooperated fully with the authorities during the course of the investigation and respect the jury’s verdict...”

Several jurors declined comment.

At the ACC media day in Charlotte, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, a former Duke assistant, said of the verdict: “It probably does put an exclamation point on it. That it’s even more serious. Not that I wish ill on the gentlemen that were convicted, but ... we need to get it all out, man. “

In instructing the jury Monday morning, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said “A violation of an NCAA rule by itself is not a violation of a law.” He added the issue was whether “the universities were fraudulently misled about whether an NCAA violation took place.”

Sentencing will take place on March 5.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says the guilty verdicts against three men on federal charges stemming from an investigation into corruption in college basketball is good because the sport's wrongdoers will be punished.

During the trial, Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola, a former Adidas America consultant, testified that Orlando Early, a former N.C. State assistant basketball coach, accepted tens of thousands of dollars and helped funnel it to the family of Smith to secure the basketball player’s commitment to the Wolfpack,

“I gave Orlando Early $40,000 to give to the family of Dennis Smith,” Gassnola said.

Gassnola has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to testify for the federal government. Gassnola told the court he flew to North Carolina in 2015 and delivered the cash to Early at the coach’s request.

N.C State compliance director Carrie Doyle testified last Tuesday and Wednesday that she had no knowledge of the payments made to the Smith family, which are a violation of NCAA rules. She said had the school known of them, Smith would not have been offered a scholarship.

NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts talks with reporters after learning of the verdict in a college basketball corruption trial. Keatts spoke to reporters at ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte, NC Wednesday, Oct. 24. 2018.

Though a Kansas assistant coach allegedly discussed financial requests of the family of Zion Williamson during a phone call with one of the defendants in the trial, Duke officials said last week they are confident Williamson’s eligibility wasn’t compromised.

The 18-year-old Williamson, a 6-7 forward from Spartanburg, S.C., rated among the top five players in the 2018 recruiting class, committed to Duke last Jan. 20 and signed his national letter of intent on April 20.

Earlier in the trial, text messages between a grassroots basketball coach and a former agent runner shown in federal court appeared to back up a claim made by UNC freshman forward Nassir Little and his father that they did not accept money in exchange for Little’s commitment to play college basketball.

Staff Writer Steve Wiseman contributed to this story.

University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams tells reporters why he trusts UNC prospect Nassir Little in the wake of an FBI investigation into college basketball.

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

Read Next

University of North Carollina basketball coach Roy Williams talks about the problems in college sports and that while he "doesn't live in that world", he is not "burying his head in the sand".

  Comments