The first of what was promised to be a series of dominoes has fallen when it comes to the college basketball corruption scandal that’s been going on for two years. Might the Arizona Wildcats be next in line?
On Wednesday the NCAA issued a Notice of Allegations against North Carolina State, accusing the Wolfpack of two Level I violations and two Level II violations all related to recruitment of former point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Also implicated in the NOA are former head coach Mark Gottfried and former assistant Orlando Early. Early is accused of funneling more than $46,000 to either Smith—who played for NC State in 2016-17 before leaving to become an NBA lottery pick—or his family to ensure he attended NC State, with $40,000 of that allegedly coming from a former Adidas executive.
Gottfried, who was fired by NC State in 2017 and is currently head coach at Cal State-Northridge, was hit with a ‘failure to monitor’ allegation.
Level I violations are considered the most serious and, depending on what the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ultimately decides, could lead to penalties ranging from vacated wins and scholarship reductions to postseason bans or ‘show cause’ penalties against coaches, such as Gottfried, who would then be unable to coach or recruit at the collegiate level for a set period of time.
Former UConn coach Kevin Ollie was hit with a three-year show cause penalty earlier this month stemming from infractions that occurred during his tenure from 2012-18, but that wasn’t connected to the sport-wide scandal that’s been going on since several college assistants were arrested in September 2017.
NC State appears to be the first of six Division I basketball programs the NCAA was prepared to issue NOAs involving Level I violations to this summer, as promised by vice president of regulatory affairs Stan Wilcox to CBS Sports in mid-June. Numerous school, coaches and players were mentioned during the recently completed federal bribery trial of Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, both of whom were found guilty, and once that trial ended the next step appeared to be the NCAA going after individual programs.
Arizona has been widely considered one of the schools that could receive such an NOA, with the basketball program being under active investigation since earlier this year. In addition to its link to the trial and FBI investigation, either through testimony and wiretaps played at trial and the guilty plea of former assistant Emanuel ‘Book’ Richardson to a bribery charge, the school forced out assistant Mark Phelps for what has been reported as an NCAA violation regarding a former recruit’s transcripts.