N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow, through an athletic department spokesman, declined to comment Wednesday on a Yahoo! Sports report that the federal government has given the NCAA the approval to start its own investigation into the scandal involving the sneaker company Adidas and the payment of recruits to attend Adidas-sponsored schools.
Yahoo! Sports, citing anonymous sources, published the report on Tuesday night.
N.C. State, Kansas, Miami and Louisville were involved in an federal trial in New York in October that found an Adidas executive, Jim Gatto, an Adidas consultant, Merle Code, and a would-be agent, Christian Dawkins, had defrauded those schools by paying recruits and rendering them ineligible by NCAA standards and ineligible to receive federal grant money.
The three were found guilty of wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
N.C. State acknowledged in April that it had reached out to the NCAA on three different dates, between March 1 and April 13, to provide information about the federal case and the dealings of Gatto and Dawkins involving star guard Dennis Smith Jr. in 2015 before Smith had enrolled at N.C. State.
According to testimony in the trial, former N.C. State assistant coach Orlando Early was directly involved in a payment to Smith, a five-star recruit from the class of 2016. T.J. Gasnola, a former grassroots consultant for Adidas, testified that he helped arrange a payment of $40,000 for Dennis Smith’s father, through Early, to help keep Smith committed to N.C. State.
Smith Sr. was his son’s club coach with Team Loaded. It is legal, under NCAA rules, for Adidas to pay Smith to coach his son’s club team. The father of former Duke star Marvin Bagley III was paid by Nike to coach an Arizona-based club team.
But an assistant coach of an NCAA school can’t be involved in the payment of a recruit’s family.
Early’s alleged involvement in the payment of a player is a direct NCAA violation. N.C. State could face an array of penalties from a postseason ban to a loss of scholarships or a financial penalty.
Early worked at N.C. State for six seasons before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired in Feb. 2017. Smith’s lone season at N.C. State was a disappointing 15-17 losing campaign during the 2016-17 season.
Smith, from Fayetteville, went pro after one season and was a first-round pick of the Dallas Mavericks, while Gottfried and his staff were fired.
Gottfried spent last basketball season as a scout for the Mavericks and then was hired by Cal-State Northridge as its head coach in March.
N.C. State received a subpoena in January from the FBI and then in March contacted the NCAA.
In October, Carrie Doyle, the senior associate athletic director for compliance, testified during Gatto’s trial about the steps N.C. State took to check on Smith’s eligibility.
Doyle, who has worked for N.C. State for eight years, previously worked in enforcement for the NCAA.
NCAA investigations can last anywhere from nine months to a year and then penalty/ruling phase can drag on another six months to a year from there.
Gassnola also testified in court to paying recruits from Arizona, Louisville and Kansas.