The first three of eight defendants in the 2017 college basketball scandal received sentences ranging from six to nine months on Tuesday, by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in a Manhattan courtroom.

James Gatto
Former Adidas executive James Gatto was sentenced to nine months in prison for his role in a college basketball scandal that involved paying players. (Image: AP)

Adidas executive James Gatto was sentenced to nine months in federal prison, while former Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring sports business manager Christian Dawkins were ordered to spend six months in prison.

Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney said all three men planned on appealing the convictions, and were released on bond.

“They’re not going to jail anytime soon,” Haney said.

Louisville Implicated in Scandal

The payments that received the most attention centered around Louisville recruit Brian “Tugs” Bowen Jr. Gatto and Dawkins were found guilty of funneling $100,000 to Bowen’s father in an attempt to get his son to play for Rick Pitino.

Though Pitino was not indicated in the scandal, he was fired, along with athletic director Tom Jurich. A piece of damning evidence was Dawkins and Code were caught on a wiretap discussing how they needed to give Pitino “plausible deniability” in getting Bowen to enroll at Louisville.

“They were making sure Pitino’s tracks were covered, to the extent they could,” Kaplan said.

Pitino tried to get work in the colleges or the NBA, but could not find employment. He is now coaching in Greece.

Trio Provide Mea Culpa

The three pled guilty in October of seven combined counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud by paying families of coveted basketball prospects to get them to commit to programs sponsored by Adidas.

Kaplan said that he wanted the sentences to be a “great big warning light to the basketball world” and argued that there was a “need for deterrence here.”

All three expressed remorse, and Dawkins told the judge that he realized what he did was wrong.

“I realize now more than ever that none of this was worth it,” Dawkins said. “In my quest to get ahead I broke rules and made some really bad decisions. No one forced me to do either.”

Code said that the type of activity he and the other defendants engaged in is widespread in college basketball. Other coaches that have been linked to the scandal include Bill Self of Kansas and Sean Miller of Arizona.

“Some things really got to be changed about college basketball,” Code said.

While Kaplan sympathized with the defendants for being prosecuted. while others who did the same thing were not, he said he wanted this to be “a great big warning light to the basketball world.”

Others Await Their Fate

Three of four assistant basketball coaches pled guilty earlier this year and will be sentenced in April. Former USC assistant Tony Bland, South Carolina and Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans, and Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson pled guilty to one count each of bribery.

The three were accused of accepting bribes to steer players to certain financial advisers and business managers. Richardson and Bland will be sentenced in April, while Evans will be sentenced in May.

Another assistant coach that was charged, has decided to go to trial. Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person will be in a New York City courtroom in June. While Richardson and Evans accepted around $20,000 in bribes, and Bland $4,100, Person is accused of taking $91,000.

Rashan Michel, a former NBA referee who owned a clothing company, was also charged with bribery, as well as wire fraud and will go on trial with Person.

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