The college basketball corruption trial began on Tuesday with opening arguments in which Jim Gatto's attorney Casey Donnelly said she had evidence that schools made payments to recruit athletes, Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel reported.
According to Wetzel, Donnelly acknowledged that Gatto had committed several NCAA violations, but that evidence would prove that Oregon offered "an astronomical amount of money" to land former five-star recruit Brian Bowen. It has previously been reported that Gatto paid Bowen Jr.'s family $100,000 to attend Louisville. Donnelly claims the deal was made to "level the playing field."
"Jim Gatto broke NCAA rules," Donnelly said. "NCAA rules are not laws."
Donnelly also admitted that Gatto payed $20,000 to get Silvio De Sousa to Kansas and $40,000 to the family of Dennis Smith Jr. while the former NC State and current Dallas Mavericks point guard was at the university. The payments were made to "match the offer" Under Armour allegedly paid in an attempt to get De Sousa to commit to Maryland.
Donnelly asserted that evidence would show that similar payments were made to athletes, including a $150,000 offer from Arizona to recruit five-star forward Nassir Little, who is currently with UNC.
Gatto, a former Adidas executive, is under trial alongside sports business manager Christian Dawkins and former amateur league coach Merl Code for funneling money provided by Gatto to the families of top recruits in exchange for their commitment to Adidas-sponsored schools. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, a list of names and programs were read to potential jurors as part of the jury selection process. The list, which made mention of players like Markelle Fultz, Kyle Kuzma and Romeo Langford, does not implicate those on it but provided more details on the scope of the investigation.
The ongoing trial is just one of three centered around the corruption scandal and is expected to take place over the next year.