Kansas seeks $1 million in restitution from corruption case

The University of Kansas is seeking to recover more than $1 million in legal fees and lost tuition from one of the three men convicted of a pay-for-play scheme to send high-profile recruits to college basketball programs sponsored by Adidas.

Former Adidas employee James Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Christian Dawkins, a former runner for NBA agent Andy Miller, were convicted in October of conspiring to steer high school prospects to Adidas-sponsored schools to ensure they signed with the sneaker company and certain financial advisors and business managers once they turned pro.

According to court records, probation officials recommended a one-year prison sentence for Gatto and eight-month sentences for Code and Dawkins. Their attorneys have argued for non-custodial punishment.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan is scheduled to sentence the men in New York on Tuesday.

Louisville officials are seeking to recover about $32,000 in losses from the three defendants. Only Gatto owes restitution to Kansas and NC State, which is asking the court for more than $250,000 in restitution, according to court records.

In a victim impact statement, Kansas attorney William Sullivan detailed the university's financial losses, including $112,731 in lost athletic scholarships and more than $1 million in legal fees incurred while responding to federal subpoenas, preparing witnesses for trial and cooperating with NCAA investigations.

"The damage done by Mr. Gatto's and his co-conspirators' greed cannot be overstated," Sullivan wrote. "Their actions have impaired the University of Kansas' 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."

Attorneys for the defendants argued in earlier motions that their clients never intended to harm the universities but rather help them, oftentimes at the request of the schools' basketball coaches.

"Through their crimes, the defendants not only caused the Universities to issue athletic scholarships under false pretenses, but they also exposed the Universities to a wide

range of harms -- both tangible and intangible -- that, as the victim impact statements submitted by the universities make clear, entailed not just losses of millions of dollars, but reputational and human tolls that cannot be so easily measured," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Prosecutors wrote that the impacted schools might face even more harm because of current or future NCAA investigations, which could result in the loss of scholarships, additional legal fees and lost postseason revenue.

"While the implications of the defendants' scheme in the context of the NCAA's infractions process remains unknown at this time, each of these schools also faces the possibility of serious additional consequences in the form of penalties and fines from the defendants' actions," prosecutors wrote. "This is particularly daunting for the University of Louisville, which was already serving probation for a prior infractions case, and could face even greater potential additional negative consequences as a result."

Federal prosecutors accused Gatto, Code and Dawkins of conspiring to funnel $100,000 from Adidas to Brian Bowen Sr. to ensure that his son, Brian Bowen II, signed to play basketball at Louisville. Once the FBI uncovered the pay-for-play scheme, Louisville officials declared Bowen II ineligible. He is playing professionally in Australia.

Gatto and former Adidas consultant Thomas "T.J." Gassnola allegedly funneled $90,000 from Adidas to Nicole Player, the mother of former Kansas player Billy Preston, and $2,500 to current Jayhawks player Silvio de Sousa's legal guardian. Preston never played for the Jayhawks before turning pro; the NCAA declared de Sousa ineligible for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Gatto and Gassnola were also accused of conspiring to send $40,000 from Adidas to former NC State star Dennis Smith Jr.'s father to ensure that Smith signed to play for the Wolfpack.

Louisville deputy counsel Amy Shoemaker wrote that the university "suffered the impact of a demoralized alumni, a defeated fanbase, and a rapid decline in ticket sales, sponsorships, donations, and revenue."

Additionally, Louisville has paid legal fees associated with ongoing litigation with former basketball coach Rick Pitino and a financial settlement with former athletics director Tom Jurich. Pitino and Jurich were fired in the wake of the scandal.

"Easily the real financial impact is in the millions of dollars," Shoemaker wrote.