Three sentenced at Adidas recruiting scandalMarch 12, 2019
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the three men convicted of pay-for-play schemes to steer high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored college basketball programs to multiple months in prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sentenced former Adidas executive James Gatto to nine months in federal prison, former Adidas consultant Merl Code to six months and aspiring sports business manager Christian Dawkins to six months.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said he had to balance the need for a stern message with the realization that others who did similar crimes were not prosecuted in a widespread college basketball recruiting scandal that has tainted two dozen schools.
Former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, a former Adidas consultant, were convicted in October of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of recruits to Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina State.
They were accused of funneling money from Adidas to the families of high-profile recruits to ensure they signed with the sneaker company and certain financial planners and business managers once the players turned pro.
The defendants’ attorneys had argued for noncustodial sentences.
Code said he also regretted his actions but added, “Some things really got to be changed about college basketball.”
Among other allegations, the men were accused of conspiring to pay $100,000 from Adidas to Brian “Tugs” Bowen’s father to influence Bowen to sign with Louisville in the summer of 2017.
The defendants’ attorneys argued throughout the trial that their clients intended to help the universities by assisting them in signing talented basketball recruits and never intended to harm the schools, as federal prosecutors alleged.
Code and Dawkins are scheduled for a second trial at U.S. District Court in Manhattan on April 22 in a separate case involving alleged college basketball corruption.
“The sentencing has nothing to do with April,” Haney said.
Person is accused of accepting $91,500 in bribes from a federal cooperating witness to influence Auburn players to sign with financial advisers and agents.
Kaplan also cited the playing at trial of a recorded conversation between Code and Dawkins in which the men discussed giving Louisville basketball coaches “plausible deniability” about the scheme.
“I’ll never forget that,” Kaplan said. “They were making sure Rick Pitino’s tracks were being covered.”
Pitino was fired by Louisville after arrests were made in 2017 in the corruption investigation. He has denied wrongdoing.
In a release, Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said the sentences “only begin to reflect the magnitude of the harm these defendants caused through a scheme that not only defrauded multiple public universities but upended the lives of young student-athletes and corrupted a game cherished by so many.”
Kaplan recommended all three men serve their sentences at minimum security prisons.