3 convicted in college basketball bribery scandal get prison sentences

Merl Code, James Gatto and Christian Dawkins

Merl Code, James Gatto and Christian Dawkins

Former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code, and sports agent Christian Dawkins each received their sentences this morning related to a widespread NCAA basketball corruption scandal that was unearthed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2017.

Jim Gatto, a former basketball marketing executive at Adidas; Merl Code, a former Adidas basketball consultant; and Christian Dawkins, a former recruiter for an NBA agent, were found guilty in October of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy for brokering a deal to pay the father of one top recruit $100,000 if his son attended Louisville.

However, prior to sentencing, Kaplan said he sympathized with the argument that the defendants were being punished when others who did similar things were not being prosecuted.

Code, 45, said he "deeply" regretted what brought him to court but noted he believes, "things need to be changed about college basketball".

In October, a jury found Gatto guilty on all three of his counts and Dawkins and Code guilty to each of their pairs after the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of NY successfully proved its case that the three men conspired to defraud the University of Louisville and the University of Kansas.

In explaining his sentence, Kaplan explained that he felt, regardless of the dispute over the complicated legal theories at play in the case, the men knew what they were doing was wrong, as demonstrated by masking the payments with fake invoices and secret cash handoffs in parking lots and hotel rooms.

"In my quest to get ahead I broke the rules and made poor choices", said Dawkins, 26.

During the trial, testimony focused on KU coach Bill Self's relationship with government witness T.J. Gassnola.

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Allegations of wrongdoing against Kansas are connected to the recruitment of former prospect Billy Preston and current Jayhawks player Silvio De Sousa.

Gassnola testified during the trial that he also gave former NC State assistant Orlando Early $40,000 to secure the commitment of former Wolfpack star Dennis Smith Jr. after Gatto approved the payment.

The defense in the case argued that the coaches, including Self and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, were aware of the payments to players. The accused parties were said to have offered money to the parents of players so that they could go to the aforementioned schools.

Attorneys for the three men recently asked the judge to sentence them to probation.

The government was attempting to recoup more than $1.1 million for Kansas, more than $250,000 for NC State and almost $32,000 for Louisville to reimburse the schools for scholarships and legal fees related to the scandal.

KU's total requested restitution is $1,136,424.

As part of Tuesday's sentencing, Code and Dawkins are required to pay $28,261 in restitution to Louisville, according to a tweet from Adam Zagoria, a college basketball reporter covering the trial.

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