NEW YORK, March 6: A former Adidas executive was sentenced on Tuesday to nine months in prison for bribing young basketball players in a case illustrating the excesses of amateur sports in the US.
Jim Gatto, who was Adidas marketing director at the time, was convicted of making the payments to star high school basketball players in a bid to tie them to the sportswear company later in their careers.
The payments had three goals: first, to get them to go to a university sponsored by Adidas, second, to work with the company if they went pro and third, to sign with Christian Dawkins, an agent who collaborated with Gatto.
Evidence showed that the family of Dennis Smith Jr., who is now a point guard with the New York Knicks NBA team, received $40,000 through this process.
Dawkins was sentenced to six months in prison on Tuesday, as was Merl Code, who was consulting for Adidas and took part in the scheme, according to prosecutors.
A witness who testified during the trial of the three men said that Deandre Ayton – the first player selected in the 2018 NBA draft – would also have been a recipient of the scheme.
The trial has shed light on the practices of high-level university sports, which generate billions of dollars each year but whose athletes are unpaid outside of college scholarships. – AFP