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NC State releases timeline outlining response to FBI probe

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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.

Additional charges filed against three defendants in FBI probe

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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.”

San Diego head coach Lamont Smith no longer facing domestic violence charges

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Less than two weeks after San Diego head coach Lamont Smith was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, it was reported Tuesday night that the San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office has decided to not charge Smith with a crime.

On February 25, Smith was arrested at Oakland International Airport on suspicion of domestic violence, assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury and false imprisonment. According to ABC 10 News in San Diego, Smith was involved in an alleged incident with a woman at the team hotel the night prior to the team’s return flight after winning a game at San Francisco.

Per reports the woman, who was taken to an area hospital for treatment for non-life threatening injuries, told police officers that she was intimately involved with Smith. Following the arrest, San Diego announced that Smith was being placed on administrative leave and assistant Sam Scholl would serve as acting head coach for the remainder of the season.

According to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, the school released a statement Tuesday saying that Smith’s status has not changed and Scholl will continue to serve as acting head coach.

With Scholl at the helm, San Diego lost to BYU in the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament. The Toreros have an overall record of 18-13, and it will learn its postseason fate (NIT, CIT, CBI or no postseason) on Sunday.

Report: Minnesota center Reggie Lynch facing 3rd sexual assault allegation

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Suspended from competition by the University of Minnesota after it was ruled by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action that he was responsible for sexual misconduct in an alleged sexual assault that occurred last April, center Reggie Lynch has been allowed to rejoin the team for practices.

Tuesday afternoon the Minneapolis Star-Tribune released another report on Lynch’s case, with expulsion having been recommended on the heels of a third alleged victim coming forward and accusing the senior with sexual assault. Lynch is currently appealing the ruling regarding the first alleged incident that was handed down by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which included suspending Lynch from school and banning him from campus until August 2020.

Lynch’s appeal of that ruling will be heard by the Minnesota Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee. Lynch, who was in his first school year on campus after transferring from Illinois State, would go on to be involved in another incident in May 2016.

Lynch was not charged by law enforcement authorities in either incident, with the athletic department suspending him during the offseason but reinstating him in September 2016 after what was believed to be the second incident.

With Tuesday’s report by the Star-Tribune, Lynch is now alleged to be involved in three such incidents in the months of April and May 2016 as opposed to the two that were reported on last week.

Former St. John’s star Rysheed Jordan charged in shooting

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A former NBA D-League player who starred at St. John’s University is charged in Philadelphia with attempted murder, robbery and other counts after police say he shot another man during a robbery attempt.

Police say 22-year-old Rysheed Jordan and two other suspects met three other men on May 27 in the city for a deal involving a cellphone. They say Jordan shot one man in the arm after he and the other suspects tried to rob them.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Jordan was arrested early Wednesday after police say he ran from a traffic stop and tried to throw a loaded gun with a desecrated serial number over a fence.

Jordan played two years at St. John’s and was released by the 76ers’ D-League team in January after 11 games.

Information from: WPVI-TV, http://www.6abc.com

Former UConn commit Brown arrested on robbery charges

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As one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017, 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown was a player on the receiving end of interest and offers from many of the top programs in the country. But now his future is in doubt, as the Miami, Florida native has run into serious legal trouble.

As first reported by CBS Miami, Brown was arrested Saturday night on charges of robbery and fraudulent use of a credit card, with the charges resulting in a bail of $25,000. In total there were two counts of robbery by sudden snatching, one count of armed robbery and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card totaling more than $100.

Brown originally committed to UConn in mid-January, and then transferred from Miami Beach HS to Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut shortly after making that decision. However his time at PSA was brief, as Brown left the school after getting into an altercation with a player following a game in mid-February. Less than three months later Brown’s pledge to UConn was no more, as the two parties went their separate ways.

J.T. Wilcox of CBS Miami touched on Brown’s childhood in his story on the center’s recent arrest:

Brown, who’s said to have converted to Judaism – the religion of his legal guardian, has had a tumultuous past. The youngest of five, Brown grew up with his biological mother in Liberty City and spent time bouncing around in various foster care programs before he began living with (legal guardian Michael) Lipman.

In what has been a tough upbringing, Saturday’s news is a sad turn in the life of Zach Brown.