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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

RALEIGH — N.C. State compliance director Carrie Doyle testified in federal court in New York on Tuesday that she had no prior knowledge of a $40,000 payment made to the father of Dennis Smith Jr. to secure his son's commitment to play basketball for the Wolfpack.

The government alleges that former Adidas executive James Gatto gave $40,000 to an unidentified N.C. State assistant basketball coach who passed it on to the father in fall 2015.

"What, if anything, did you know about the payment of approximately $40,000 to the father of Dennis Smith Jr. in connection with Smith Jr.'s decision to attend N.C. State University?" U.S. assistant district attorney Noah Solowiejczyk asked Doyle on Tuesday, according to a court transcript obtained by the News & Observer.

"I have no knowledge," Doyle answered.

Doyle was called to testify in the federal wire fraud and conspiracy trial of Gatto, former Adidas employee Merl Code and former agent runner Christian Dawkins. She was expected to continue testifying Wednesday. The FBI's case involves corruption in college basketball that involved Adidas employees, agents and coaches paying players to get them to play at certain schools and sign with Adidas upon entering the NBA.

On Tuesday, Doyle was questioned about the scheme, an unauthorized recruiting trip involving former Wolfpack coaches Mark Gottfried and Orlando Early's use of a helicopter, and the relationship between Smith's father and Eric Leak, a former football player at N.C. State and agent runner who had been disassociated from the university.

Early in her testimony, Doyle was asked by Solowiejczyk what would have happened if N.C. State had been aware of the $40,000 payment made to the player's father, according to the court transcript.

"If we had found out about it before we had issued the financial aid and it was determined to be valid and true information, we would never have provided the athletics scholarship," Doyle said. "If we found out about it after the aid had already been disbursed, we would not award future aid."

Doyle added that it wouldn't have mattered if Smith Jr. had no knowledge of the payment. A payment to his father, she testified, would be an NCAA violation.

Smith, from Fayetteville, enrolled at N.C. State for the 2016 spring semester and played basketball for the Wolfpack during the 2016-17 season before entering the NBA. Gottfried and his staff, including Early, were fired in February 2017.

Doyle also testified that she had no knowledge of the involvement of an N.C. State assistant coach and an Adidas consultant in the payment to secure Smith's commitment. When asked what would have happened if she had discovered that such a payment occurred, Doyle said the coach "would have been fired."

In 2015 Gottfried, then the head coach, and Early, an assistant heavily involved in Smith Jr.'s recruitment, flew in a helicopter to visit Smith Jr. at Trinity Christian High School in Fayetteville.

Doyle testified on Tuesday that she was "irritated" that she learned of the trip in "real time" through Twitter and had no advance knowledge of it, which was not normal procedure for recruiting visits.

"The coaches, generally speaking, run all of these kinds of things by the compliance staff to make sure that whatever it is they're going to do is in accordance with NCAA rules and that we're avoiding potholes and pitfalls, and in this instance they didn't do that."

Doyle was concerned that the trip occurred during the school day, which is against NCAA rules. She also was concerned about the publicity during the trip, which also involved a visit to a second recruit, Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, at High Point Christian. Adebayo was not named in the trial on Tuesday.

Doyle testified that she subsequently determined that no rules violations had occurred with the trip. She reported her findings to the NCAA, who agreed that the trip was within the rules.

Doyle also became concerned that Leak, a former N.C. State football player who the school disassociated itself from in 2011 in light of NCAA violations, was involved with Smith Jr.'s recruitment.

"My understanding is that coach Gottfried was the one that brought forward the information that Eric Leak might be in contact with Dennis Smith Sr.," Doyle said Tuesday.

Doyle said she met with Gottfried and athletics director Debbie Yow to address the situation.

"We decided that Orlando Early, being the primary recruiting coach, should go and talk with Dennis Smith Sr., and determine the extent to which these conversations were occurring and determine whether anything else was going on," Doyle testified.

Early met with the father, Doyle said, and when he reported back to her, she said her concerns were calmed.

Still, Doyle testified that she had Julie Roe Lach, a former NCAA vice president of enforcement, meet with Gottfried and his staff to explain NCAA rules.

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October 11, 2018
 
 
 

 

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