Thomas “T.J.” Gassnol, a former Adidas consultant, was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation after prosecutors credited him with helping secure convictions of three others involved in a college basketball corruption scandal. He faces a one-year supervised release, two months of home confinement and electronic monitoring, along with a $100 fine, according to ESPN.
Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, a former Adidas consultant, were convicted last year of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling the illegal payments. Gatto was sentenced earlier this year to nine months in prison. Dawkins and Code got six months each.
Gassnola had pleaded guilty to being a fixer in a scheme to lure prized prospects to Adidas-sponsored hoops programs by funneling tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments to their families.
“I’m sorry for the harm I caused in this matter,” Gassnola said at the hearing in federal court in Manhattan, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan imposed the light sentence after being told in court papers that Gassnola’s cooperation was critical in expanding the scope of the investigation and providing an “insider’s view” of the corrupting influence of corporate money on college basketball.
Gassnola, 47, started a grassroots AAU program out of Massachusetts for Adidas in 2002 and ran it for 15 years. He cooperated with the FBI after it had announced the arrest of four college basketball assistant coaches and three Adidas-connected individuals for fraud and corruption schemes in September 2017.
During the trial, Gassnola admitted to helping facilitate payments from Adidas to multiple players, the amount of which equated to close to $200,000 between at least four players tied to Kansas, NC State and Arizona. He also admitted to knowledge of other deals, including a now-infamous exchange of $100,000 from Adidas to Brian Bowen Sr., the father of Louisville recruit-turned-signee Brian Bowen Jr.
He caused a stir by dropping the names of several top players at the center of the scandal and referring to the deal-making as “black ops.” Asked what he meant by that, he responded, “It’s dark. Underground. You don’t want anyone to know about it.
Over the course of several lengthy proffer sessions, Gassnola spoke openly about his involvement in the criminal conduct, describing his relationship with Gatto, Code, Dawkins, and others, and the payments to the families of student-athletes he made and facilitated on behalf of Adidas, in his role as a consultant in an effort to help the company in the ‘shoe wars,'” a sentencing memorandum to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan read. “In particular, and in addition to confirming details about the planned payments to the Bowen and Little families, which were known to law enforcement, Gassnola identified a series of unlawful payments that had not, at that point, been identified during the investigation, including the $90,000 in payments to the mother of Billy Preston and $40,000 to the handler of Dennis Smith Jr.”