The federal case that’s investigating bribes and corruption in college basketball took another turn Tuesday afternoon, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that a Superseding Indictment been filed against defendants James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins. Gatto, Code and Dawkins now face three additional charges of wire fraud.
This move expands the scope of the investigation into the trio, with it being alleged by the government that payments were made to parents of recruits (now former players) in connection with the prospect committing to one of four Division I programs.
The schools named by the U.S. Attorney’s Office were Louisville, Miami, Kansas and NC State. All four schools had apparel deals with adidas at the time of the alleged wrongdoing by the defendants, and remain so at present time.
While there isn’t anything new regarding Louisville and Miami in this latest update, that is not the case for Kansas and NC State.
Gatto conspired to funnel $40,000 from adidas to the parent of a recruit who at the time was considered to be the top high school prospect in North Carolina, according to the document detailing the new charges. The goal, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was to ensure that said recruit would attend NC State. However the recruit was unhappy with his commitment to NC State, with a payment being made to ensure that he would not de-commit.
The recruit in question is believed to be Dennis Smith Jr., who played one season at NC State before entering the 2017 NBA Draft.
NC State released a statement on the matter, which in part read:
“While there are no indictments against former NC State employees, the document includes allegations of a payment in 2015 from an athletics apparel company to an unidentified parent of a student-athlete through a former unidentified NC State coach. As the indictment stated, the payment was designed to be concealed, including from the NCAA and officials at NC State.
“NC State focuses significant effort on educating student-athletes, coaches and employees about NCAA rules, team rules, impermissible behavior and benefits, amateurism, eligibility issues and other possible infractions. This is done in team and individual settings, continually educating both coaches and student-athletes, and emphasizing awareness of impermissible activity so students and employees understand the rules and repercussions of breaking those rules.”
With regards to Kansas, it’s alleged in the documents that a payment of $90,000 was made to the mother of a top high school prospect in order to ensure the player’s commitment to Kansas. According to the document, the commitment in question was made in October 2016. This player appears to be Billy Preston, who was never cleared to play for Kansas.
There are also allegations of an agreement with the guardian of another prospect in order to ensure his commitment to Kansas. It’s been speculated that the recruitment of Silvio De Sousa was impacted. De Sousa, who joined the Kansas program in the middle of the 2017-18 season after graduating from IMG Academy, recently completed his freshman season at the school. The document released by the FBI alleges that a $20,000 payment was made to De Sousa’s guardian in order to reimburse a rival apparel company that had already made a payment to ensure De Sousa’s commitment to one of their programs.
Kansas released the following statement Tuesday night:
“Earlier today, we learned that the University of Kansas is named as a victim in a federal 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.”