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N.C. State challenges NCAA’s charges tied to alleged payment to ex-player

Former N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried at a March 2018 news conference introducing him as Cal State Northridge’s new coach.
Former N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried at a March 2018 news conference introducing him as Cal State Northridge’s new coach.
(Associated Press)

North Carolina State is challenging NCAA charges based on allegations that an Adidas representative paid $40,000 to the family of former basketball star Dennis Smith Jr. through a former Wolfpack assistant coach to ensure Smith’s commitment to the school.

N.C. State is arguing that the NCAA has not proven money was actually provided to Smith or his family, noting that Smith — who entered the NBA draft after one year in Raleigh — denied receiving money in an interview with the school earlier this year.

The school released its response Monday to four violations filed in July by the NCAA in the wake of college basketball’s corruption scandal. A key element of those charges was court testimony last year by government witness T.J. Gassnola that he delivered $40,000 to former Wolfpack assistant coach Orlando Early intended for Smith’s family in 2015. The NCAA has alleged that Gassnola was acting as an outside consultant for Adidas — which has an apparel deal with the school — with the goal to “ensure Smith’s commitment” to the Wolfpack.

Much of the case centers on Early, though former head coach Mark Gottfried, now the head coach at Cal State Northridge, is charged under the NCAA provision of head-coach responsibility for violations within his program. Current coach Kevin Keatts, who replaced Gottfried in March 2017, and his staff have not been accused of wrongdoing.

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