Former Adidas Exec Sentenced to Prison Time in NCAA Corruption Case

Former Adidas executive James “Jim” Gatto was sentenced to prison time today for his role in the NCAA pay-for-play scandal that turned college basketball on its head in 2017.

Gatto, AP reports, received a nine-month sentence, while sports industry business manager Christian Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code each received a six-month sentence.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has allowed the three men to remain free until a federal appeals court decides whether to uphold their convictions, the AP also reported. The judge further noted that by way of the case and today’s sentencing, he wanted to send ”a great big warning light to the basketball world.”

In October, a Manhattan jury found Gatto, Code and Dawkins guilty of a series of fraud charges in the 2017 corruption case, which had swelled to include around two-dozen schools.

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 in October 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.

Prosecutors had 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 an October statement addressing the ruling — which came after a three-week trial — Adidas said it has worked to strengthen 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.”

Adidas declined to comment on today’s sentencing.

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