This afternoon, a jury ruled that former Adidas consultant Merl Code, Adidas employee James Gatto, and former financial adviser Christian Dawkins were guilty of a series of wire fraud charges stemming from their work orchestrating schemes to pay Adidas money to college basketball players in order to steer them to Adidas schools. Gatto was convicted on three counts, while Code and Dawkins were each convicted on two. The judge in charge of the case scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 5. They could face between two and four years of jail time for these convictions alone.
Attorneys for the defendants admitted to paying Dennis Smith Jr., Brian Bowen, and Billy Preston so they would attend N.C. State, Louisville, and Kansas, respectively, although they argued that a violation of NCAA regulations didn’t necessarily constitute breaking federal laws. Adidas released a short statement on the verdicts:
There are two more trials scheduled to begin early next year. Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel will appear in Manhattan District Court in February for allegedly taking bribes to steer college players to sign with certain agents and advisers. Former assistant coaches Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Lamont Evans, and Tony Bland will go to trial in April for allegedly accepting bribes from Code and Dawkins, who are also defendants in that case.
The NCAA will probably boast that the sport has now been cleaned up, even though this shady black market for talented players’ signatures is certain to persist for as long as the NCAA forces their labor to work for free. No guilty verdict will remove or even shift the strong economic incentives that exist for shoe companies and this predatory consultant class to keep paying players, since those players deserve money and the NCAA remains determined to keep this economy underground in order to protect its own own bottom line.