Access Denied: NCAA Bribery and Corruption Scandal
On September 3, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan issued a ruling denying the motions by the NCAA and Yahoo Sports parent company, Oath, Inc., to intervene in the pay-for-play NCAA scandal case for the limited purpose of obtaining access to evidence that was not admitted at trial. As we have previously reported, in October 2018, former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christopher Dawkins, and consultant Merl Code were convicted of fraud that arose out of a college basketball pay-for-play scandal.
Most recently, the NCAA sought access to documents associated with the case because it wishes to use the evidence in its own investigation of NCAA rule violations. Oath, Inc. sought access to the same documents to “vindicate the public’s claimed right of access.” In addition, both parties sought the unredacted version of James Gatto’s sentencing report with the accompanying exhibits. Judge Kaplan noted in his ruling that the information sought references the actions or conduct of third parties other than the defendants in this case.
Gatto’s sentencing memorandum was redacted to avoid potential harm to other individuals or third parties. It referenced men’s basketball coaches at other universities that were not criminally charged. It is this redacted information that the NCAA and Oath, Inc. wished to obtain.
The government opposed both motions on the ground that the privacy interest of the third parties referenced in the documents outweigh the need for disclosure. In addition, the government argued that the release of the information could cause harm to the third parties. Judge Kaplan agreed that the strong privacy interest outweighed the need for the access to the documents sought by NCAA and Oath, Inc.
Despite this, the NCAA will continue its aggressive investigation of corruption in college basketball.