Report: Former NC State Coach Mark Gottfried Directly Connected to Payments in NCAA Fraud Trial

Gottfried is the first head coach to be directly connected to prohibited payments during the investigations.
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Former NC State coach Mark Gottfried has reportedly been connected to a criminal case in the federal investigation into college basketball corruption, according to ESPN. Per the report, court documents link Gottfried directly to impermissible payments to players, namely guard Dennis Smith Jr. and his father.

In a disclosure from federal prosecutors, former NC State assistant Orlando Early's attorney said his client disclosed that Gottfried gave him envelopes containing what Early believed to be cash for Smith Jr., now with the Knicks, on two occasions to deliver to Smith Jr.'s trainer, Shawn Farmer, in exchange for his commitment to the Wolfpack in 2015. Farmer was reportedly supposed to deliver the envelopes to Smith Jr.'s father.

The allegations that involve Gottfried were reportedly included in a sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 12 on behalf of former Adidas executive James Gatto. The information concerning Gottfried is redacted in the public sentencing memo.

Gatto was sentenced to nine months in federal prison on Tuesday by a judge. He was sentenced along with former Adidas consultant Merl Code and would-be agent Christian Dawkins, who were sentenced to six months each.

Early's attorney's statement was reportedly originally disclosed by prosecutors before the October trial that convicted Gatto, Code and Dawkins on all counts of committing wire fraud, as well as charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The three "victim schools" implicated in that trial included Louisville, Kansas and NC State. Defense attorneys representing the men conceded that their clients each violated NCAA rules by paying families of the following players: Brian Bowen (Louisville), Billy Preston (Kansas) and NC State's Smith Jr.

The allegations that implicated Gottfried were not introduced into evidence during October's criminal trial and were disputed by his attorney in the disclosure.

Gottfried is the first head coach to be directly connected to prohibited payments during the investigations. He was fired by NC State in 2017 and is now coaching at Cal State Northridge.

LSU head coach Will Wade was suspended Friday after Yahoo! Sports reported on Thursday that he discussed a recruiting deal with Dawkins, a former Adidas consultant, in 2017, but Wade has yet to be directly implicated.

Several assistant coaches, including former USC assistant Tony Bland, former Arizona assistant Emmanuel “Book” Richardson and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans have all pleaded guilty to crimes related to receiving or handling illicit payments and still await sentencing. Alleged payments have also been made to assistant coaches employed by USC, Oklahoma State and Arizona. Assistants at TCU and Creighton were also reportedly implicated this week.

In addition, former NBA player and Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person is scheduled to stand trial on June 17 for related offenses.