The recruitment of NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr.
For the first time, the NCAA gave a clear picture of how it will proceed with the college basketball programs involved in the recently completed federal investigations into corruption in the sport.
Stan Wilcox, the NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs, told CBS Sports on Wednesday that at least six Division I programs will receive a Notice of Allegations with Level I violations this summer and two “high-profile” programs would receive their NOA by early July.
“There’s even another group of cases that we’re still working on,” Wilcox told CBS Sports at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention in Orlando, Fla.
“The main thing is that we’re up and ready. We’re moving forward and you’ll see consequences.”
N.C. State was one of four schools that was found to have been defrauded by former Adidas executive Jim Gatto and aspiring agent Christian Dawkins during an October trial in New York. According to the FBI investigation, and testimony during the trial, the family of Dennis Smith Jr. was paid at least $40,000 to pick N.C. State during the recruiting process in 2015.
According to testimony during the trial, former N.C. State assistant coach Orlando Early was involved in getting the money from Gatto to Smith’s father. Under NCAA rules, a coach paying or helping pay a recruit would qualify as a Level I violation.
Smith played one season at N.C. State, in 2016-17, before leaving for the NBA. Early was dismissed when head coach Mark Gottfried was fired before the end of that same season.
Wilcox did not mention any specific schools in his comments on Wednesday. Kansas, Louisville and Miami were also found to have been defrauded during the initial trial. Former assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in a separate trial in New York this spring.
The FBI made its initial arrests in September 2017. The Adidas-based fraud case was tried in October, during which N.C. State’s director of compliance Carrie Doyle testified. The second fraud case, in which N.C. State was not involved, was completed in May.
The NCAA had previously said it was going to wait until the completion of the trials until it began its own punishment phase.
N.C. State has previously acknowledged that it has sent all the information regarding Smith’s recruitment that it shared with the FBI to the NCAA. N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson said in January that the school had been told by the NCAA it would be in a holding pattern until the completion of the federal trials.
“As we’ve previously acknowledged, N.C. State has been cooperating with the NCAA and providing requested documents and information,” an athletic department spokesperson said in a statement. “We received a verbal Notice of Inquiry in October as part of that process.”
Wilcox’s comments were the first made publicly by an NCAA official that included a timetable or indicated the severity of the allegations. Level I allegations are the most severe in the NCAA rulebook and can lead to a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and/or a significant fine.
“So now that’s it over, we’re going to be moving forward with a number of Level I cases that will help people realize that, ‘Yeah, the enforcement staff was in a position to move forward,’ ” Wilcox said.
The NCAA has adopted some new policies based on the recommendations of the Rice Commission, which was formed after the initial FBI findings in 2017. The most serious cases can now be decided by an infractions committee that will include people from outside the NCAA structure. Previously, infractions committees were composed of only school or conference officials. Investigators can now also use information presented at trial to build their cases.
The NOA is the second step in any major NCAA investigation and triggers the punishment phase. The school gets a chance to respond to the NOA before it meets with the Committee on Infractions.
It typically takes about nine months to a year to receive the NCAA’s final ruling after the NOA is delivered.
The NCAA has been criticized for how it handled recent high-profile cases involving Penn State and North Carolina. Wilcox, a former athletic director at Florida State and deputy AD at Duke, was hired in August 2018 to help the NCAA improve its regulatory processes.
“It’s a great opportunity for the enforcement staff, the committee on infractions, as well as our whole community to now try to … put things back where they need to be,” Wilcox said.