The college basketball world was rocked more than a year ago, when it was revealed that the FBI was in the midst of a lengthy probe into the sport. Namely, the FBI was looking into allegations of a pay-for-play scandal that involved sneaker companies, agents, and major college basketball programs.
When it comes to the various legal battles that popped up in the wake of the scandal, the first major shoe dropped on Wednesday afternoon. The trial focusing on James Gatto, Merl Code, and Christian Dawkins came to an end, with all three being found guilty on felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Gatto and Code both worked for adidas in different capacities, while Dawkins worked for former NBA agent Andy Miller.
Gatto was found guilty on three charges, while Code and Dawkins were each found guilty of two. They won’t be sentenced until March 5, but per ESPN, the trio might face 2-4 years in federal prison.
The college hoops programs that were identified in the trial were three of the biggest adidas schools in the sport: Kansas, Louisville, and N.C. State. ESPN has more details on the specifics of what went down in court.
Among other allegations, the men were accused of conspiring to pay $100,000 from Adidas to Brian “Tugs” Bowen’s father to influence him to sign with Louisville in the summer of 2017.
Gatto, the sneaker company’s director of global sports marketing for basketball, also was accused of conspiring with former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola to pay $90,000 to former Kansas prospect Billy Preston’s mother and $20,000 to current Jayhawks player Silvio De Sousa’s guardian.
As for N.C. State, the trial revealed that Gassnola gave a former assistant $40,000 to “secure the commitment” of current Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. Despite this trial coming to an end, there are still more on the horizon: Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Pearson and former NBA referee Rashan Michel are slated to stand trial in February, and one month later, Code and Dawkins will be joined as defendants in a separate case by former Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, and former USC assistant Tony Bland.