6 March 2019
Former Adidas executive James Gatto (in the picture) was sentenced to nine months in prison. Gatto and two other men were convicted of fraud for making secret payments to the families of top-tier basketball recruits to influence where the players went to school. Gatto’s co-defendants, Adidas consultant Merl Code and young talent scout Christian Dawkins, got six-month sentences.
The federal judge gave them relatively lenient sentences for a reason that corruption is common in the sport. Under federal sentencing guidelines Gatto faced 46 to 57 months in prison, while Code and Dawkins each faced 30 to 37 months.
Code and Dawkins are yet to face a trial on charges they paid bribes to former Auburn University assistant coach Chuck Person to send players to a financial adviser and business manager.
Gatto was the mastermind of a scheme that paid tens of thousands of dollars to high school basketball players and their families in return for attending colleges affiliated with Adidas. University of Louisville, North Carolina State University and the University of Kansas are said to be involved with Adidas. The universities also should keep the sports free of corruption.
The onus is on the NCAA to step up its own efforts to clean up the sport. It should ensure that schools and players are not affiliated to any sportswear companies. It remains to be seen whether the governing body of college sports has the will or the resources to do so.
This case clearly shows how the school basketball players have become marketing tools for footwear companies such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok. The case also highlights the fact Adidas goes free while only the employee is charged. The company was a party to the corruption as it paid the bribe money. Therefore, Adidas should have been charged along with Gatto. The Oregonian reported.