The University of Kansas and North Carolina State are the latest schools to be swept up in a bribery scandal involving college basketball. A rewritten indictment released Tuesday in New York alleges that a representative from the Adidas sports apparel company arranged for payments to be made to the parents of athletes willing to commit to the schools. KPR's Greg Echlin has more.
Kansas, NC State Newly Implicated in NCAA Basketball Bribery Case
NEW YORK (AP) — Kansas and North Carolina State are the latest schools to be swept up in a bribery scandal involving college basketball. A rewritten indictment released Tuesday in New York alleges that an Adidas representative, who no longer works for the company, arranged for payments to parents of athletes willing to commit to the schools. The refreshed indictment came several months after 10 men were charged in an alleged scheme to bribe assistant coaches in exchange for steering top-flight NBA prospects to a particular agent or financial adviser. Four assistant coaches have been prosecuted and the scandal has led to the end of coach Rick Pitino's career at the University of Louisville. The new indictment expands the scope of the charges, alleging a wire-fraud conspiracy that included alleged payments to families of six student-athletes being recruited by four schools, prosecutors said.
The court papers portrayed the shoe executive and some coaches as bad actors, saying the conspiracy included hiding payments and signing forms falsely asserting that no payments had been made. The indictment paints a picture of transactions that were concealed to allow athletes to make it through eligibility reviews.
Prosecutors said the Adidas representative, James Gatto, and others agreed to pay $90,000 to the mother of a Kansas recruit and to funnel $40,000 to the father of a recruit at North Carolina State who was widely regarded as the top high school recruit in the state of North Carolina and who had played for an Adidas-sponsored Amateur Athletic Union team. No players are directly named, but specific details make clear the indictment is describing former North Carolina State star Dennis Smith Jr. and Kansas player Silvio De Sousa.
Prosecutors say money helped secure the players' commitments to play college basketball at the schools and encouraged them to sign an Adidas sponsorship deal when they entered the NBA. Smith, a point guard, was drafted by the Mavericks and declined comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday night as Dallas played the Phoenix Suns.
A date listed in court papers for the announcement — August 30 — is when De Sousa made a surprise announcement he would play for Kansas. He became a crucial player off the bench this season as the Jayhawks reached the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Villanova.
Kansas coach Bill Self said following the program's year-end banquet Tuesday night that he would not discuss individual student-athletes. But Self did say that "it certainly took away from what was a nice evening tonight from a thought standpoint. "It doesn't and shouldn't take away from us feeling good about what is going on within our program," he said, adding that he would allow the school to make any future comments.
Prosecutors said they beefed up charges related to the Louisville conspiracy, adding a wire fraud charge. Louisville declined comment.
N.C. State received a grand jury subpoena in January seeking records involving school officials, its former coaching staff, ex-Wolfpack one-and-done guard Dennis Smith Jr. and his representatives. A recent Yahoo Sports report revealed bank records and other expense reports that listed impermissible payments from agents to at least two dozen players or their relatives, including loans of thousands of dollars to Smith.
In a lengthy statement Tuesday evening, N.C. State said its lawyers and athletics compliance staff contacted former coaches after the first indictments were announced in September. "Former staff questioned stated they had neither any knowledge nor involvement" in activities related to the allegations in the case, the school said in its statement, pledging cooperation with prosecutors and the NCAA.
Joe Monaco, a Kansas spokesman, said the school learned earlier Tuesday that it was named as a victim in the indictment. "The indictment does not suggest any wrongdoing by the university, its coaches or its staff. We will cooperate fully with investigators in this matter. Because this is an active investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time," he said. A lawyer for Gatto did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
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