Ex-Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola would testify on Wednesday admitting he paid several players’ families — including Phoenix Suns’ No. 1 pick, Deandre Ayton — according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. The incident was made public during a fraud case against Adidas executive James Gatto, Merl Code Jr. and runner Christian Dawkins when Gassnola was brought in as a government witness. Gassnola will be examined thoroughly on Thursday, before trial defense’s cross-examination.
Silvio De Sousa, Dennis Smith Jr., Brian Bowen Jr. and Billy Preston would all receive payments from Gassnola. He would state as much while on the stand Wednesday. The former sponsor also had ties with New England Playaz since 2004 and was a consultant for Adidas since 2013. However, Gassnola did plead guilty in March to wire fraud. And now, he must testify under oath.
During Gassnola’s testimony, told the jury he agreed to pay $25,000 to Bowen Jr.’s family for him to play with the Michigan Mustangs — who is Adidas sponsored. Bowen Jr.’s family did say they wanted to play for the Mustangs, but needed the money upfront to make that decision.
“I told Dawkins I would get it done and take care of it,” Gassnola says.
Gassnola paid $7,000 to Bowen’s family when the money arrived in a magazine. Then, Adidas executive Chris Rivers “took care of the rest.”
The case proceedings did continue on Thursday with a number of unsolved cash payouts also being discussed. Most notably, payments to the other players in Gassnola’s testimony.
On Wednesday, we would get Bill Self’s thoughts on De Sousa. As of right now, he is eligible and still a member of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program. And Self isn’t giving us much to work with. But, for obvious reasons.
“I obviously can’t really comment on what’s ongoing,” Self says. “But I can say this, in the past I’ve made a statement that we certainly believe, based on the information we have, that this thing would have a positive resolution. … But I’m taking the approach, as everybody is on our team, that we’re going to have Silvio De Sousa playing for us this year.”
Ayton is in the NBA now, and regardless this probably won’t impact him too much. This is about much more than Ayton, however. The NCAA has a mess on their hands, and it’s all their own doing.