Federal Judge Denies NCAA’s Request for Evidence Gathered in Connection with FBI’s College Basketball Investigation

Federal Judge Denies NCAA’s Request for Evidence Gathered in Connection with FBI’s College Basketball Investigation

In a development that likely hinders the NCAA’s ongoing investigations into several high-profile men’s basketball programs, a federal judge has denied the NCAA’s request seeking certain materials gathered by the FBI during its college basketball investigation and used during the subsequent trial. The NCAA was seeking 24 trial exhibits and an unredacted copy of a sentencing memorandum for defendant Jim Gatto, a former Adidas basketball executive who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling payments to high school basketball recruits.

The materials sought by the NCAA included text messages between head and assistant basketball coaches, recorded calls between the defendants and assistant coaches, and statements made to the FBI by parents of the high school recruits. None of the materials were admitted into evidence at last fall’s trial. Some materials were refused from evidence after the defendants’ attorneys sought to introduce them, and others were never offered but discussed on the record. The NCAA sought the materials to permit it to “investigate potential rule violations, take enforcement action if warranted, and consider reforms to prevent future violations.”

Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York sided with the government attorneys who sought to keep the materials confidential, finding that the documents contain sensitive information and that the degree of potential injury is high if the materials are released. More specifically, Kaplan agreed that the requested materials consisted of hearsay, speculation and rumor, and that the materials would implicate people not standing trial who would not have the opportunity to challenge or respond to the information in the materials.

Despite the ruling, the NCAA still has access to testimony and evidence that was entered into the record during the trial, including testimony that the defendants did, or attempted to, pay certain high school recruits for their commitments to certain schools and other text message exchanges between Adidas employees and head and assistant coaches. And, as a result of a recent rule change which now allows NCAA investigators to use information submitted as evidence in legal proceedings, the NCAA will be able to use this information during its investigatory and infractions process. So, while the NCAA will not have all the information it sought, it still has information that could potentially be problematic for the basketball programs it is investigating.

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