Witness testifies North Carolina State recruit paid $40,000

NCAA Bribery Trial Witness says Pitino ‘had no knowledge’ of Bowen payments

NCAA Bribery Trial Witness says Pitino ‘had no knowledge’ of Bowen payments

A former consultant for Adidas has testified he arranged cash payments to the families of top college basketball prospects in a scheme to steer them to major programs.

Business manager Christian Dawkins, former amateur coach Merl Code and former Adidas executive James Gatto have pleaded not guilty to defrauding various colleges by concealing the use of under-the-table payments of up to $100,000 from Adidas in exchange for commitments to programs that were seen as a path to big National Basketball Association paydays.

As the FBI's corruption case against college basketball continued in a NY courtroom on Wednesday, T.J. Gassnola - affiliated with Adidas through the New England Playaz AAU basketball program - testified that he made payments to players including Ayton, Brian Bowen Jr., N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Kansas' Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa.

Gassnola, who ran the Adidas-sponsored New England Playaz grassroots program since 2004 and was an Adidas basketball consultant since 2013, pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud. As part of his cooperating agreement, Gassnola must testify truthfully.

On Wednesday, Gassnola testified that he agreed to pay $25,000 to Bowen's family, according to ESPN. He also told the court that he had sent $7,000 in a magazine and Adidas executive Chris Rivers would take care of the rest.

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Smith spent one year at North Carolina State and now plays for the Dallas Mavericks; Preston left Kansas without playing a game and is under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in a developmental league; and De Sousa is still on the roster at Kansas. It was the first time since jury selection that Ayton's name has been mentioned during the trial.

Thomas "TJ" Gassnola offered no details about the payments to the Ayton family before court recessed for the day.

"I obviously can't really comment on what's ongoing", Kansas coach Bill Self said Wednesday.

Gassnola admitted to recruiting De Sousa to KU, according to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, in a relationship that began after KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend asked Gassnola to connect Falmagne with Adidas to set up a gear deal for the Angolan National Team. All of this is merely speculation until Thursday's Gassnola testimony, as we'll have to wait and see what information he gives up on each of those aforementioned players. "Underground. You don't want anyone to know about it".

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