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Trio gets prison in college basketball recruiting scandal

Mar 5, 2019, 11:30 AM
Business manager Christian Dawkins arrives to court in New York, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Federal pr...
Business manager Christian Dawkins arrives to court in New York, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Federal prosecutors have recommended multi-year prison sentences for Dawkins and two other men convicted of fraud for channeling secret payments to the families of top-tier basketball recruits to influence where the players went to school. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Three men received prison sentences Tuesday in the widespread college basketball recruiting scandal that has tainted two dozen schools.

Former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code 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.

Gatto got nine months in prison; Dawkins and Code got six months each.

Prosecutors say coaches teamed up with Gatto and others to trade hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents and even tailors.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said an independent enforcement body to adjudicate major infractions cases could be in place by August.

The Arizona Wildcats have been linked to Dawkins from the beginning of the FBI investigation. During the trials so far, transcripts of FBI wiretaps included Dawkins’ mentions of working with the Arizona staff. Phones linked to Dawkins and UA head coach Sean Miller made contact at least 13 times over a course of several months in 2017, ESPN reported.

Representatives of Miller have reportedly been notified that he’ll be subpoenaed in the federal trial that is still ongoing, Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde, Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel reported.

After the first set of trials, several former college assistant coaches who were defendants, including former Wildcat assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, reached plea bargain agreements.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said Monday he sympathized with the argument that the trio of defendants were being punished when others who did similar things were not being prosecuted. Nonetheless, he said, “These defendants all knew what they were doing was wrong.”

The judge added that he wanted to send “a great big warning light to the basketball world.”

“I deeply regret my actions,” Gatto said in a shaky voice.

Dawkins referenced “social dysfunction” in college basketball and said his actions were “clouded” by a “system that takes advantage of kids.”

“I realize now more than ever none of this was worth it,” Dawkins said.

Code said he also regretted his actions but added, “Some things really got to be changed about college basketball.”

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