Scope of NCAA Corruption and Bribery Case Grows
On April 10, 2018, attorney Robert S. Khuzami added the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University to the list of NCAA basketball programs involved in the NCAA corruption and bribery case. As we have continued to cover, this case involves Adidas executive Jim Gatto, Adidas contractor Merl Code, and sports business manager Christian Dawkins. Each stand accused of facilitating six-figure payments to basketball players and their families in exchange for promises that the players would enroll at Adidas sponsored NCAA Division I schools and later would hire Dawkins. After Khuzami’s additions, the list of suspect NCAA schools includes the University of Louisville, the University of Miami, and now the University of Kansas, and North Carolina State University.
According to the superseding indictment, in 2015, North Carolina conspired with Gatto, to “illicitly funnel approximately $40,000 … to the father of a student-athlete … who was regarded at the time as the top high school recruit in the state of North Carolina. The payments were intended to help secure and maintain the student-athlete’s commitment to play at North Carolina.” The student-athlete, who remained unnamed in the superseding indictment, enrolled at North Carolina, played for the 2016-17 season, and then entered the NBA draft in June 2017. According to ESPN, Dennis Smith Jr. is the unidentified player. Smith left North Carolina after his freshman season and is currently a rookie guard for the Dallas Mavericks.
Between May and September 2017, Gatto, Code, and Dawkins allegedly conspired with the University of Louisville to “illicitly funnel approximately $40,000 … to the father of a student-athlete who was an all-American high school basketball player and considered at the time to be one of the top recruits in his class.”
Further, between October 2016 and November 2017, Gatto conspired with the University of Kansas to “illicitly funnel approximately $90,000 … to the mother of a top high school basketball player.” According to ESPN, Billy Preston is the unidentified player. Also according to the indictment, in September 2017, Gatto was informed that he would need to make “another $20,000 payment” to a player’s guardian to help the student-athlete “out from under” a deal with another school that was sponsored by an Adidas competitor. Reports say the only Kansas player who committed to Kansas in August 2017 was Silvio De Sousa.
Finally, according to the superseding indictment, between July 2017 and September 2017, Gatto, Code, and Dawkins conspired with the University of Mimi to “illicitly funnel approximately $150,000 … to the family of another student-athlete who was a top high school basketball player expected to graduate in 2018.”
Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, and Miami are not the only schools caught up in the NCAA scandal. Back in February 2017, ESPN reported that the FBI had several wiretapped conversations between the University of Arizona Wildcats’ head coach, Sean Miller, and Dawkins. Reportedly, the two had several conversations about paying $100,000 to guarantee that freshman Deandre Ayton would sign with Arizona. This forced NCAA president, Mark Emmert, to release a statement saying “[t]hese allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.” According to the allegations in Tuesday’s superseding indictment, it appears that the “systematic failures” extend to several of the top NCAA men’s basketball schools.