The Worst Rise to the Top

A New York City federal jury has spoken, and its message is ominous: federal prosecutors are empowered to criminalize actions for which there is no statutory prohibition. To put it another way, the government has pulled criminal charges out of thin air – and journalists are cheering.

The news media outlets are framing this as a “college basketball corruption case,” but that is a misnomer, to put it mildly, which I will explain later. First, the news as is being reported on the CBS Sports website :

NEW YORK — All three defendants in the first college basketball corruption trial were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Wednesday.

A jury found James Gatto guilty on all three of his counts and Christian Dawkins and Merl Code were found guilty on both of theirs.

Gatto is a former Adidas employee, Code a former consultant. Dawkins is a former aspiring sports agent. The outcome of the trial stands to have widespread impact on college athletics in the coming months and years, be it in the continued reform of NCAA bylaws or by way of punishments against coaches and/or schools down the road.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York successfully argued the trio of men defrauded the University of Louisville and the University of Kansasin the process of helping funnel money – and recruits – to those schools, with the intention of later signing prospects to endorsement deals.

All three were found guilty on wire fraud and specific conspiracy to commit wire fraud against the University of Louisville. Gatto’s third guilty count was a conspiracy to commit wire fraud against the University of Kansas.

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