NCAA charges NC State with 4 men’s hoops violations

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has charged North Carolina State with four violations, accusing a former assistant coach of providing payments and benefits connected to the recruitment of one-and-done basketball player Dennis Smith Jr.

The school said Wednesday that its notice of allegations was received Tuesday, and now has 90 days to respond.

The notice includes four serious charges, with two that are potential top-level charges. The NCAA alleges that from 2014-17, former assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible inducements and benefits — including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith’s family in 2015.

The NCAA also said former coach Mark Gottfried, now coaching at Cal State Northridge, was “presumed responsible” and “did not demonstrate” that he monitored Early for compliance. It also accuses Gottfried of failing to monitor the program’s pass list, leading to a total 164 impermissible complimentary admissions to games.

The notice indicates the NCAA’s hearing panel could levy show-cause penalties against both Gottfried and Early.

The Wolfpack went 15-17 during Smith’s one season on the team in 2016-17, and the school fired Gottfried late during that season. Smith, a point guard with the New York Knicks, is entering his third season in the NBA.

Scott Tompsett, a Kansas City-based attorney who represents Gottfried along with Raleigh’s Elliot Abrams, said in a statement Wednesday night that his client is disappointed that the allegations have been brought against N.C. State and takes them seriously.

“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.

Cal State Northridge spokesman Nick Bocanegra issued a statement on behalf of the school saying it is aware of N.C. State’s notice and that Gottfried told school officials that he was not involved in, or had knowledge of, any NCAA rules violations — an affirmation that is a condition of his employment.

The notice came roughly a month after a key NCAA official said six schools could face allegations of Level I violations as part of the fallout in the college basketball corruption scandal. Stan Wilcox, vice president for regulatory affairs for the NCAA, said two high-profile programs would be notified in early July, the others at a later date.

While numerous schools, including Arizona, Kansas and Auburn, have been tied to the federal corruption case, N.C. State received a grand jury subpoena in 2018 for records tied to Smith, Gottfried and Early.

The staff of current coach Kevin Keatts, who replaced Gottfried in March 2017, isn’t linked to the case. The school received a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA last fall signifying the start of an investigation, and N.C. State said in its statement that it remains in communication with the NCAA.

“N.C. State is committed to the highest levels of compliance, honesty and integrity,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement. “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.”

New athletic director Boo Corrigan said in an open letter to fans that the school is being transparent in acknowledging the receipt of its notice and “we will make every effort” to support Keatts and the current players and staff.

The NCAA also accuses Early of violating principles of ethical conduct by providing 44 complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball pass list to Smith’s then trainer, Shawn Farmer, on 26 occasions between January 2016 and March 2017 — with that benefit valued at $2,119. He is also alleged to have provided $4,562 in 106 impermissible complimentary tickets on 13 occasions between November 2016 and February 2017.

The less-severe allegations charge men’s basketball staffers with providing $862 in impermissible benefits in the form of 14 complimentary admissions in 2016, and accuse the school with failing to monitor the program’s use of complimentary admissions.