With the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York releasing a superseding indictment in connection with the FBI investigation into bribes and corruption in college basketball, two schools were named for the first time. Defendants James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins now face, in addition to prior charges, three felony counts of wire fraud with two of those counts dealing with alleged bribes paid to prospects who would go on to attend Kansas and NC State.
With regards to NC State, the recruitment of former point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is what has been speculated to be the issue that the FBI has focused on. Per the documents released last week the schools don’t have much to worry about when it comes to alleged crimes committed, as the FBI has viewed the institutions as victims in all of this. And in NC State’s case, the school made its first moves to ensure it was in the clear back in the fall.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, NC State officials said that they first reached out to current and former members of the coaching staff when the case first came to light. Shoe company adidas has figured prominently in the case, and as an athletic department that has an endorsement deal with adidas NC State officials wanted to be proactive.
According to the school all questioned said that they had no knowledge of any payments being made to either secure or maintain Smith’s commitment to NC State. In its investigation of the matter, NC State said that it also questioned a sports agent who, after stating his belief that adidas influenced Dennis Smith Jr. in his decision to NC State, said that he had no direct knowledge of a payment being made.
Per the documents released last week, a coach who was working at NC State at the time informed Gatto and another man (CC-3) of the recruit (speculated to be Smith) wavering on his commitment. To ensure that the recruit would attend NC State, the FBI documents stated that Gatto and the co-conspirator (CC-3) delivered a $40,000 payment to the coach which was in turn given to the parent of the recruit.
NC State received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in mid-January, two months prior to the release of the superseding indictment.
While the federal government has taken the approach of viewing the schools as victims, under the premise that they were unaware of the recruits’ eligibility as amateurs being compromised, there’s still the matter of dealing with the NCAA once this is all said and done. One can’t blame schools for wanting to do all they can to show the NCAA they’ve done all they can to comply with the probe, with the hope that they would avoid any major penalties down the line.