Report: Former NC State coach Mark Gottfried linked to payments regarding Dennis Smith Jr.

According to a report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, former NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried (2011-17) has been directly linked to impermissible payments to players. The report involves former NC State point guard Dennis Smith Jr., too, currently a member of the New York Knicks. Gottfried is currently in his first season as the head coach at Cal State Northridge.

As Schlabach notes, Gottfried is the first head coach in direct connection with these payments. Former assistant coach Orlando Early is involved, too.

In a disclosure from federal prosecutors:

Former NC State assistant Orlando Early’s attorney said his client disclosed that Gottfried on two occasions gave him envelopes — contained with what Early believed was cash — to deliver to star guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s trainer to ensure he signed with the Wolfpack in 2015.

According to the disclosure, Early (now a scout with the Memphis Grizzlies) believed the payments for Dennis Smith Jr. — made at the request of his family — to be around $100,00o if not more.

The allegations Gottfried is involved in originate from a sentencing memorandum filed last month on behalf James Gatto, the former Adidas executive who was sentenced to nine months in federal prison earlier this week. Schlabach’s report continues:

The sources told ESPN that federal prosecutors initially disclosed Early’s attorney’s statement before an October federal criminal trial in New York, in which Gatto and two other men were convicted of conspiring to funnel money from Adidas to the families of high-profile recruits to steer them to Adidas-sponsored programs, including Kansas, Louisville and NC State.

Gottfried’s attorney — Scott Tompsett — has disputed the allegations. Part of those allegations include Gottfried, according to Early, complaining about having to pay out of pocket for Smith, which is why he intended to ask Adidas for help. Reportedly, the first payment came to Smith during his junior prep season (2014-15); the second came in the fall of 2015. A few months later DSJ joined the basketball program at NC State.

The second payment came in the fall of 2015, after Early reached out to Gassnola to say there were issues surrounding Smith, who had committed earlier in the fall.

“He was having issues with keeping that situation together,” Gassnola told the jury.

Gassnola testified he gave $40,000 in cash to Early in November 2015. Early told Gassnola he was going to give the money to Farmer. Gassnola said Adidas reimbursed him the money.

After that payment, Early exited the situation with Smith, per the disclosure. Smith enrolled at NC State in January 2016, for the spring semester.

Fred Demarest, NC State’s senior associate athletics director, claimed — to ESPN — that the university was unaware of these allegations regarding Gottfried, the school’s former basketball coach.


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