The recruitment of NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr.
N.C. State released a timeline Tuesday on its involvement in the FBI investigation into college basketball, which answered some questions and provided new information about things like who knew about a grand jury subpoena, which former coaches the school questioned about the FBI's case and emails it searched. What was learned:
Dennis Smith Jr. meets with compliance staff: On Nov. 11, 2016, NCSU’s compliance staff met with basketball player Dennis Smith Jr. to provide information about agents, runners and impermissible benefits. This meeting was "customary for high-profile student-athletes," the timeline states.
Coaches, past and present, questioned: In October and November 2017, N.C. State asked current basketball coaches and a number of former coaches if they had any knowledge of or involvement in any activity related to the allegations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI investigating fraud and corruption in college basketball. N.C. State says all who were questioned, including former head basketball coach Mark Gottfried and former assistants Orlando Early, Butch Pierre and Heath Schroyer, said they had no knowledge or involvement.
Emails analyzed, a familiar name emerges: In October and November, N.C. State said it searched for emails to or from Marty Blazer, a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser who once attempted, in violation of NCAA rules, to lure former North Carolina football players to his business. N.C. State also searched for emails to or from adidas, Nike and Under Armour personnel.
N.C. State said no records were found regarding Blazer, who had been identified as an FBI informant through an examination of FBI documents and by the Washington Post and ESPN. Emails concerning shoe/apparel companies were reviewed and no relevant information or improper activity found.
Gottfried denies everything: On Oct. 5, Gottfried, the former Wolfpack basketball coach, through his attorney, said he had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the “subject matter” coming out of the Southern District of New York and FBI investigations.
A Wilmington attorney makes a call: On Oct. 12, Gary Shipman, a Wilmington attorney and registered sports agent, first contacts NCSU’s general counsel.
Shipman has a story to tell: A week later, on Oct. 19, N.C. State's general counsel talks with Shipman, who said he believes Dennis Smith Jr’s enrollment at NC State was influenced by adidas through his father, Dennis Smith Sr. General counsel directs NCSU athletics compliance staff to conduct a face-to-face interview with the athlete agent. Shipman is informed by the university that it had to report and follow up on the information he gave them.
Shipman sitdown interview: On Oct. 25, in the face-to-face interview with N.C. State athletic compliance, Shipman said he had no direct knowledge of any payments and declined to share details or names of anyone who might be involved. He said no N.C. State employees were involved, and he had no information that Dennis Smith Jr. was involved.
Calling the FBI: On Nov. 15, NCSU general counsel calls Raleigh FBI agent to relay information from the interview. NCSU later said it was not sure if the information provided was relevant to the investigation, or if the information supplied by Shipman was confirmed.
Return call from the FBI: On Dec. 11, the FBI agent calls the general counsel to say he has relayed the information to the Southern District of New York investigators.
Keatts, coaches, athletes not in the know: On Jan. 23, 2018, a week after receiving a grand jury subpoena, N.C. State begins collection of requested records. N.C. State says that in keeping with emphatic request in the subpoena stressing confidentiality, only the “handful” of people needed to gather the records were told of the subpoena. The school's timeline states, “No coaches or student-athletes were informed of the inquiry or the subpoena’s existence.”
That would include Wolfpack basketball coach Kevin Keatts, who on Feb. 19 — in an ACC coaches teleconference call and later in an interview with The N&O — said N.C. State was “100 percent not involved” and did not have any “red flags or concerns” about the FBI investigation.
Contacting the NCAA: N.C. State said it contacted the NCAA on March 1, March 23 and April 13 to provide updates on email inquiries and the receipt of a superseding indictment.
On March 1, N.C. State contacted the NCAA about an email, which had been published in a Feb. 23 Yahoo report, from ASM Sports agency employee Christian Dawkins to agent Andy Miller that referenced contact between Dawkins and Gottfried, Early and Pierre.