NCAA NOA cites Dennis Smith, Mark Gottfried and Orlando Early
N.C. State won four ACC basketball games in Dennis Smith Jr.’s lone season with the Wolfpack.
The university released a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Wednesday with the same number of violations connected to Smith and his brief but tumultuous tenure.
N.C. State received the NOA on Tuesday and has 90 days to respond. The NCAA then has another 60 days counter N.C. State’s response. Then, in the next three to six months, there will be a meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
The NCAA has alleged two Level I violations against N.C. State:
▪ One by former assistant coach Orlando Early in connection to a $40,000 payment during Smith’s recruitment and providing more than $6,600 in impermissible benefits to Smith’s family and associates in the form of excessive complimentary tickets to N.C. State games during Smith’s tenure.
▪ One by former head coach Mark Gottfried for a failure to monitor Early, during Smith’s recruitment; and failure to monitor distribution of excessive complimentary tickets.
According to the details in the NOA, Smith’s family received $4,562 in the form of 106 complimentary tickets to 13 games during the 2016-17 season. Shawn Farmer, an associate and former trainer of Smith, received $2,119 in the form of 44 complimentary tickets to 26 different games.
There are also two Level II violations in the NOA:
▪ One for the provision of the excessive complimentary tickets to Smith’s family and the associates of three other former players.
▪ One, specific to the school, for the failure to monitor the provision of the complimentary tickets.
Each player gets an allotment of four complimentary tickets for home games. In this case, the NCAA is classifying anything over that allotment to be an “impermissible recruiting entertainment benefit.”
NCAA reacts to federal trials
This is the first step for the NCAA after the federal trials into college basketball corruption were completed in May. Louisville, Kansas, Miami, Auburn, Arizona and LSU were the other schools connected in the bribery and fraud cases.
The NCAA had been waiting for the completion of the federal trials in New York, which started back in October, to launch its investigative process. N.C. State is the first school to publicly acknowledge and release the NOA it received from the NCAA.
“N.C. State is committed to the highest levels of compliance, honesty and integrity,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement released by the school. “As the university carefully reviews the NCAA’s allegations and thoroughly evaluates the evidence in order to determine our response, we are prepared to be accountable where we believe it is appropriate and to vigorously defend this great university and its Athletics program where we feel it is necessary.”
N.C. State has hired the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King to help with the NCAA case. The same firm helped the University of North Carolina in its protracted, and successful, fight with the NCAA over academic malfeasance.
Gottfried was fired with four games left in the 2016-17 season and Early’s contract was not renewed. Gottfried, with Early as his top assistant, was N.C. State’s head coach for six seasons from 2011 through ‘17.
They landed Smith, one of the top recruits in the country, in the fall of 2015. The high-flying Fayetteville guard chose the Wolfpack over Duke and Kentucky, among other national powers. During the fraud trial of former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, T.J. Gassnola testified that he gave $40,000 to Early to provide to Farmer, who was then allegedly to gave Smith’s family the money.
Smith left for the NBA draft after his freshman season and was a first-round pick. Early is also charged with providing the extra-benefit tickets to Smith’s family and Farmer.
Coach Gottfried’s attorneys respond
Attempts to reach Early for comment have been unsuccessful. Gottfried, who completed his first season at Cal State-Northridge, issued a statement via his attorneys, Scott Tompsett and Elliot Abrams, that he has fully cooperated with the NCAA’s investigation.
“While we disagree with the enforcement staff’s position that Coach Gottfried did not adequately monitor certain aspects of his program, we are pleased that the NCAA agrees that he was not involved in any illicit payments,” Tompsett said in the statement. “This case will ultimately be decided by the Committee on Infractions after a full hearing at which Coach Gottfried will appear and have an opportunity to present his position.”
Cal State-Northridge’s athletics department said in a statement late Wednesday that officials there are aware of the notice of allegations, which does not show that Gottfried was involved in Adidas money going to Smith.
“As part of our hiring process, Coach Gottfried confirmed to CSUN that he had no involvement in, nor knowledge of, any NCAA rules violations as a head coach at previous institutions,” the statement said. “This affirmation is included in his employment documents and is a condition of employment.”
The allegations do not involve Gottfried’s tenure at Cal State. “We remain fully committed to cooperating with the NCAA,” the statement said, “and will continue to protect the accountability, integrity, and success of our student-athletes while promoting an atmosphere of compliance with all NCAA rules.”
The athletics department said given NCAA rules regarding pending infractions matters, it would provide no further comment on the case at this time.
None of the current members of N.C. State’s basketball staff were implicated in the NOA.
Other details in NCAA’s NOA:
▪ Smith was provided with a parking pass, with a value of $80, for a home football game with Florida State during the 2014 season. That was considered an impermissible benefit.
▪ Gottfried allowed a “former colleague” to accompany him to an evaluation of Smith in Fayetteville in September 2014. Jim Harrick was the former colleague, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case, and was not affiliated with N.C. State and thereby not certified to recruit off-campus with Gottfried. That’s considered a minor violation. Gottfried worked for Harrick at UCLA in the 1990s and now Harrick is an assistant to Gottfried at Cal State-Northridge.
▪ Stanley Bland, who was one of Anthony Barber’s grade-school level AAU coaches in Hampton, Va., received $436 in the form of eight complimentary tickets to seven games during the 2015-16 season. Barber played basketball at N.C. State from 2013-2016.
Keith Stevens, who was the AAU coach of former N.C. State players Lennard Freeman and BeeJay Anya in the Washington area, received $426 in complimentary tickets to two games in the ACC tournament in Washington in 2016.