A U.S. District Court Judge in New York has denied the NCAA's request to obtain redacted and unreleased materials related to a criminal case involving pay-for-play schemes to steer college basketball recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools.
In a ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan denied the NCAA's request for access to 24 exhibits and the un-redacted sentencing memorandum for former Adidas executive James Gatto. He was one of three men convicted by a federal jury in October for funneling money from Adidas to the families and/or guardians of players recruited by Louisville, NC State and Kansas.
"[The] materials relate to potential rules violations of third-parties not on trial in this action, which might be regarded by certain segments of the public as scandalous conduct," Kaplan wrote in a 23-page opinion. "Disclosure carries the risk of certain significant reputational and professional repercussions for those referenced in these documents.
"We agree with the government that the information in these documents consist of hearsay, speculation and rumors. Furthermore, the individuals referred to in these documents are not standing trial. They will not have the opportunity to test the reliability of the information contained in these materials nor respond adequately to any inferences that might be drawn on the basis of this information. In other words, the documents are of a sensitive nature, and the degree of injury is high."
Federal prosecutors opposed releasing the exhibits and materials to the NCAA.
Kaplan sentenced Gatto to nine months in federal prison in March. Former Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins were each sentenced to six months. They have appealed their convictions.
Code and Dawkins also were convicted in May in a separate federal criminal case involving alleged bribes to assistant coaches at Arizona, Oklahoma State and Southern California to influence their players to sign with Dawkins' fledgling sports management company and certain financial advisers.
A jury convicted Dawkins of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, and Code was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery. They are scheduled for sentencing in that case in October.
The NCAA is investigating at least eight schools for alleged rules violations related to the federal criminal trials. NC State has already received an NCAA notice of allegations, and NCAA investigators are currently working on cases at Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, LSU and USC.
Stan Wilcox, vice president for regulatory affairs for the NCAA, told CBS Sports in June that six schools are facing allegations of Level I violations, and the NCAA said in a statement that it's likely even more schools will be notified of violations.
After Monday's ruling from Kaplan, NCAA officials will have to rely on wiretap calls and other materials that were entered into evidence during the federal criminal trials, as well as information procured from their own investigations.
"We do not consider the NCAA's actions to be, as the government suggests, akin to commercial competitors seeking advantage over rivals or using the courts in the aid of personal vendettas," Kaplan wrote. "But we acknowledge the potential harm that could befall third-parties as a result of the professed actions of the NCAA in requesting these documents."
Kaplan also denied a similar request to access certain materials by Oath, the parent company of Yahoo! Sports.