KU wants $1 million in restitution from convicted men in college basketball corruption trial
photo by: Associated Press
The University of Kansas wants the three men convicted of fraud in the college basketball corruption trial to pay more than $1 million worth of restitution to the university, according to a document filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday.
William M. Sullivan, an attorney representing KU, said in a letter to the court that the university wanted restitution from former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code to cover the cost of legal fees and two athletic scholarships the university gave to athletes who were actually ineligible to play because of the men’s action.
“The damage done by Mr. Gatto’s and his co-conspirators’ greed cannot be overstated,” Sullivan wrote in the letter. “Their actions have impaired the University of Kansas’s ability to continue to fully use those resources for both the benefit and welfare of its student-athletes, as well as for its ongoing mission of educational and community development and enrichment.”
The two athletic scholarships referenced in the restitution request were given to former KU player Billy Preston and current player Silvio De Sousa, according to the court filing. Preston never played in an official game during his one season with KU because of doubt surrounding his eligibility. De Sousa, however, played for the team during its run to the Final Four in 2018 and the NCAA recently ruled him ineligible to play for KU until the 2020-2021 season.
KU’s total requested restitution is $1,136,424. Similar letters of restitution requests from attorneys for the University of Louisville and North Carolina State University were also filed but involved less money. Louisville only requested restitution of about $31,000, and NC State requested about $258,000.
In October, a jury found Gatto, Dawkins and Code all guilty of fraud for the scheme.
The trial centered on whether the men’s admitted effort to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits, luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas, including KU, was criminal. At stake was a fortune in revenue for the basketball programs and potential endorsement deals for the players if they went pro, both the prosecutors and defense have contended.
Earlier this month, the three men filed court documents asking for probation rather than prison time for their convictions.
But prosecutors filed documents on Tuesday arguing that the men deserve jail time for their convictions because of the seriousness of the offenses and to deter future illegal actions by others. Along with their argument, the prosecutors included the letters from the university lawyers requesting restitution.
The three men are scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.
During the trial, testimony focused on KU coach Bill Self’s relationship with government witness T.J. Gassnola. The former Adidas consultant testified that he paid the families of players to steer them to KU, including $90,000 to the mother of Preston and $2,500 to the guardian of De Sousa. Gassnola testified that he never told Self about the payments. Gassnola is awaiting sentencing in a separate but related federal case.
The defense in the case argued that the coaches, including Self and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, were aware of the payments to players. Despite the argument, the jury found all three men guilty of defrauding universities, including KU, by providing money to players’ families to steer them toward certain programs.
The restitution requested by KU covers:
• $112,731 for two athletic scholarships and financial aid the university provided to De Sousa and Preston.
• $346,393 for legal fees the university paid in response to the NCAA investigating De Sousa and Preston.
• $308,472 for fees the university incurred to cooperate with the federal investigation of the Gatto, Code and Dawkins crimes.
• $289,886 for professional service fees the university incurred to respond to federal subpoenas related to the men’s crimes.
• $78,942 for fees the university incurred to prepare Jeff Smith, KU Athletics senior director of compliance, as a witness to testify and to have an attorney present during the trial.
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More coverage: KU and the college basketball scandal
• July 24, 2018 — KU releases federal subpoenas in college basketball investigation
• April 27, 2018 — Reports: AAU director linked to NCAA bribery case, KU families pleads guilty
• April 13, 2018 — Former prosecutor: KU not in clear yet, but one past case provides hope
• Feb. 23, 2018 — Kansas linked to college basketball scandal in Yahoo Sports report
• Sept. 26, 2017 — NCAA basketball coaches, Adidas executive among 10 charged in bribe scheme