A Manhattan jury today found former Adidas employee James “Jim” Gatto, a former brand consultant Merl Code and sports business manager Christian Dawkins guilty of a series of fraud charges related to a NCAA corruption case that turned college basketball on its head last year.
Gatto, who worked as Adidas’ director of global sports marketing, Code and Dawkins were accused of funneling bribe payments to high school-aged players and their families to secure those players’ commitments to attend Adidas-sponsored schools.
The jury found Gatto guilty on all three of his counts, while Code and Dawkins were found guilty on two counts.
During the trial, the men admitted to channeling secret payments to the families of top recruits in hopes of attracting them to Adidas-sponsored basketball programs, but said such practices — although in violation of NCAA rules — were the norm among sportswear giants like Adidas and Nike, AP reported. However, prosecutors argued that the schools were in the dark about the proposed payments and that the admitted actions of Gatto, Code and Dawkins constituted criminal fraud.
In a statement today addressing the ruling — which came after a three-week trial — Adidas said it has worked to strengthen some of its processes as they relate to the NCAA.
“We cooperated fully with the authorities during the course of the investigation and respect the jury’s verdict,” the company said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the NCAA and other stakeholders in a collaborative and constructive manner to improve the environment around college basketball. We have strengthened our internal processes and controls and remain committed to ethical and fair business practices.”
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 5.
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