Originally published October 2, 2018 at 12:17p.m., updated October 2, 2018 at 08:26p.m.

As college basketball corruption trial opens, attorney admits client paid $20K to get De Sousa to come to KU

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) puts up a shot during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) puts up a shot during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


An attorney for a former Adidas executive on Tuesday admitted that her client paid $20,000 to get Silvio De Sousa to attend the University of Kansas to play basketball.

Casey Donnelly, an attorney for former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, made the admission Tuesday during a trial in New York City aiming to tackle corruption in college basketball, according to a report from Yahoo Sports.

Gatto, Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring basketball agent Christian Dawkins are facing conspiracy and fraud charges. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli Mark repeatedly said that schools like KU are victims because they were unaware of the payments to their players and urged a Manhattan federal court jury to convict the three men of fraud charges, saying their lies put multiple schools at risk of NCAA sanctions and the loss of millions of dollars.

Defense lawyers, though, placed the blame largely on the schools’ lust for basketball glory, saying blue-chip athletes were used to attract tens of millions of dollars in donations and revenues.

Gatto made the payment regarding De Sousa after being requested to do so, Donnelly said in opening statements. The attorney did not specify who made the request. Donnelly said that Gatto made the payment only after rival shoe company “Under Armour had paid for De Sousa to (commit) to the University of Maryland.”

“Jim was asked if Jim could match the offer so (De Sousa) could go to Kansas,” Donnelly said, not specifically naming who asked for the offer to be matched.

Previous indictments have made allegations that indirectly linked De Sousa and his guardian to the college basketball scandal. But Tuesday’s statements by Donnelly are the first time Gatto has acknowledged making a payment to bring De Sousa to KU.

Gatto’s attorney acknowledges he violated NCAA rules.

“Jim Gatto broke NCAA rules,” Donnelly said. “NCAA rules are not laws.”

It is unclear how Tuesday’s admission may affect De Sousa and the KU basketball program. De Sousa played last year on the Jayhawks’ Final Four team and is returning for his sophomore season.

In court, Gatto’s attorney did not specifically mention any KU coaches, but the attorney did repeatedly state that Gatto acted at the wishes of coaches in general, according to the article by Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel.

KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self had no comment when reached by the Journal-World Tuesday afternoon. Joe Monaco, a KU spokesman, declined to comment on the trial.

“It is not appropriate for the university to comment while legal proceedings are ongoing,” Monaco said. “As we have said all along, the prosecution has not suggested any wrongdoing by the university or its coaches. We will continue to cooperate as requested throughout the trial.”

Although KU is considered the victim, De Sousa and the university could be facing NCAA code violations, Tom Yeager, retired commissioner for the Colonial Athletic Association who also served on the NCAA committee for infractions, told the Journal-World on Tuesday.

“Obviously it has to be processed through the NCAA system, but if it’s accurate, there could be eligibility consequences for the student athlete and then questions the university would have to wrestle with,” he said of the De Sousa implication in court. “It has to go through the process that it’s factual and credible.”

The main issue would be establishing whether the allegation that De Sousa accepted money is a fact.

Yeager said that through the NCAA process it could take some time to prove, but if the court proves it to be factual during the trial, the NCAA could move much more quickly. But being implicated by Gatto’s attorney on Tuesday is not enough evidence yet to consider it fact.

Gatto has been accused of making payments that were used to lure multiple players to several other schools, in addition to KU. Those schools technically have been listed as victims in the case, as well.

During the trial, Mark, the U.S. attorney, began his opening statement by describing how $20,000 in cash provided by Gatto was stuffed in an envelope and handed to the father of a highly sought-after high school prospect from Michigan, Brian Bowen Jr., at a meeting last year in a New Jersey parking lot.

It was a down payment in a scheme to get Bowen to attend Louisville, an Adidas-sponsored program that could launch him into the NBA, where aspiring agent Dawkins could represent him, Mark said. When the payment to the Bowen family was uncovered, Louisville pulled his scholarship and fired its legendary coach, Rick Pitino.

“This is what corruption in college basketball looks like,” the prosecutor told the jury.

Prosecutors say recordings from wiretaps and testimony of cooperators will show that Gatto, Dawkins and Code were behind similar payoffs to players sought by Kansas and North Carolina State that sometimes involved bidding wars with Nike, Mark said.

Donnelly said Gatto was driven by the knowledge that some schools sponsored by Adidas would do almost anything to build “a nationally renowned basketball program, one that has the entire campus cheering.” KU has a sponsorship agreement with Adidas. KU and Adidas have a multimillion dollar extension of that agreement pending.

“A successful basketball program is the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket,” she said, noting that Louisville’s program generated nearly $40 million in 2017 while Pitino earned $7 million, more than he had made coaching in the NBA. The NCAA, she said, made $1 billion.

Yet, she told jurors, “Kids on court are not allowed to earn a dime.”

Lawyers for Gatto and Code acknowledged that their clients broke NCAA rules by steering cash to prospective college stars.

— The Associated Press, Journal-World editor Chad Lawhorn and Journal-World reporters Matt Tait and Dylan Lysen contributed to this report.


Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

well...this should settle weather or not DeSousa will play this season..I dont see how Self puts Silvio out on that court with the confession out in the open..I dont think KU is directly tied to seems his guardian is behind this KU has to sit back and see if the NCAA decides to make them vacate the FF from last year..we just gotta hope with the NCAA even being duped and KU not having any direct involvement is enough to get KU a lighter than expected punishment..hopefully resulted in no vacating of games, no postseason bans and no loss of scholarships..just suspend DeSousa from competition and call it even..KU is as much a victim here as well..

Marcus Balzer 3 years, 3 months ago

Two scenarios here: the specific person who requested the matching offer is never released or that person is in NO way tied to KU I don't see what ground the NCAA has to punish KU or SDS. If these individuals were acting on behalf of SDS without his and KU's knowledge there is nothing to see here.

Chris DeWeese 3 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. If the NCAA cleared DeSousa and found him eligible, what recourse do they have? Are there now rules that allow sanctions after the fact?

Barry Weiss 3 years, 3 months ago

I could be wrong, but I thought that when the NCAA cleared Silvio, it was for his scholastic eligibility to graduate early. I thought this whole issue of $20,000.00 going to him or his guardian to get him out of his deal with the other school, came after that initial clearance. If so, he could be back in play for something that came up later. Again, I could be wrong about all this.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

the NCAA can retro-act any punishments..the NCAA cleared Derrick Rose only to make Memphis vacate all his games a year after he left..the NCAA did clear DeSousa, but that was way before all these new allegations..Im hoping at worst the NCAA just suspends DeSousa or the FBI never releases any info to the NCAA to even act on

Dale Rogers 3 years, 3 months ago

Sanctions after the fact have always been allowed. Think about the Derrick Rose debacle about him having someone else take the SAT (or ACT). That cost Memphis big time and is also when Calipari slid out of there ahead of the sanctions just like he did with UMass.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, Craig Carson, I did not see your post before posting the same thing.

Joe Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

You haven't heard of retroactive ineligibility?

Bryce Landon 3 years, 3 months ago

You have to remember, this is the NCAA we're talking about. They banned us from postseason play in 1989 because Larry Brown (who by then had left for the Spurs) broke rules to recruit Vincent Askew (who ultimately never came to Kansas). The NCAA will probably penalize KU for playing an ineligible player, saying that if we didn't know De Sousa was receiving illicit benefits, then we should have known. The NCAA expects the impossible of its member schools; they expect omniscience.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago the Brown situation, you had a HC coach who was actively involved in a violation whereas in this situation noone at at school is tied to this..(hopefully that doesnt change)..not quit the same..but I see where you are getting at..

Dillon Davis 3 years, 3 months ago

What if one of those people instructing Gatto was Bill Self? His attorney just said he was going to prove that high-profile head coaches knew of the payments.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

I really dont think Self knew of any payments..especially seeing how cautious he has been with any player that was implicated in anyway with receiving benefits...I honestly think the person that hasnt been named is the guardian of DeSousa..its been thought for awhile now that he secured a deal with UA and Maryland but Silvio didnt want to go to Maryland so he had to find a way out of the deal

Chris Vincent 3 years, 3 months ago

If this testimony is true, then this is happening at every school. But think about what is at stake here. You have a shoe company funneling money to recruits to get them to a school. The school lands a recruit and the school sells out the arena, sells jerseys, school athletic dept makes lots of money. Shoe company makes money. The NCAA gets to benefit from all this activity by taking a cut of the jersey sales and the tv contracts. Remind you, that the NCAA is a non-profit. And then you get the recruits for long term loyalty IF they make it to the NBA. There has yet to be a report from a shoe company, that is a publicly traded company(in most cases). Why have we not heard statements from them?? Why is the FBI no investigating the shoe companies that are creating this whole mess anyways?

Gerry Butler 3 years, 3 months ago

Are you really that naïve? - -Do you really believe De-Sousa had no knowledge of any money being exchanged ? -- Come on man - - catch up.

Marcus Balzer 3 years, 3 months ago

If there is concrete evidence tying Self to payments, which I don't believe then you punish him and KU accordingly.

I am not arguing that people aren't aware of what is going on I'm arguing that those individuals were smart enough to NOT leave behind any evidence tying them to those actions.

[''] 3 years, 3 months ago

His guardian needs to be strung up by the toenails. What an idiot? He clearly is a crap guardian -- because you don't do this if you really care for a young man and his best interests. Lock him up!

Dale Rogers 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow, this sounds just like some other things in the news at the moment. Let's hear some allegations and then convict the guy since we always believe the person charged has to be guilty.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 3 months ago

While I agree with your "proven until proven guilty" idea, your example is about the worst one I could think of. A man who can't even answer simple questions without saying "I don't know, did you?" is guilty. That's a classic deflection tactic by liars, not something a judge should say under oath. Going silent for 10 seconds rather than answering isn't a good look either.

Freddie Garza 3 years, 3 months ago

So why don't we just stop the amateurism charade? It is and always has been a joke in the first place.

FURTHERMORE, why is the FBI investigating violations of NCAA Rules? This seems like a gross misuse of government resources. The NCAA created this mess in the first place, I think the NCAA should bear the bulk of the accountability.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 3 months ago

Why do people still think the FBI is investigating NCAA violations? This has been clarified a bunch of times and is even covered in the article above. They are going after the unreported funds transfers/income and wire fraud. They are NOT trying to put people in jail for violating NCAA rules.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 3 months ago

Gatto has admitted his actions but is just claiming the involvement of others. Nothing has been proven about Silvio.

David Morrison 3 years, 3 months ago

Silvio will play this year. Quit worrying. This trial is about NCAA rules broken by unscrupulous shoe company executives. Unless DeSousa and/or KU staff members participated in these acts of greed, then there is no "there... there." Relax and enjoy the season.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 3 months ago

My question is should KU continue to deal with Adidas after they put us in this mess.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

if i were KU, until the penalties,if any, are known i wouldnt sign any deal with them

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 3 months ago

I suppose they could sign with Nike or Under Armour, the other two shoe companies involved in this trial. Would that be better in your opinion?

Bryce Landon 3 years, 3 months ago

Oh, please, God, no! I'd rather see us in Reebok or Champion gear than see us in LaVar Ball's piece of crap clothes.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 3 months ago

under armour is clearly mentioned but nike isn't so far. it seems like new balance needs to start making bball shoes and clothes. or bring back converse.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 3 months ago

From the Yahoo Sports article:

"Here at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, the government is trying to paint a picture of the three men conspiring to defraud Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina State and Miami by doling out payments to recruits and their families that violate NCAA statutes. As such, any school playing such a player is now at risk of NCAA sanctions."

The last line implies that Silvio will likely not play until this is settled.

Troy Brodhagen 3 years, 3 months ago

Call me naive, but the fact remains that if the payment was made in cash there will likely remain no way to prove the guardian took any money. If the FBI had phone calls or documentation proving the payment was made it likely would have been in the indictment which it wasn’t. Other than the middle man’s word that it happened. Two reasons for why he would say this when the payment wasn’t made. He had to tell the Adidas guy a reason for the payment he received. Second he was caught by the FBI and wasn’t going to tell them he pocketed the cash and give them a tax charge to tack on as well. The story about him needing the $20,000 to pay back the other school seems fishy. I could be wrong, but even so it seems hard to prove he took money if the only proof they have is the word of a criminal.

Dee Shaw 3 years, 3 months ago

Gee what a surprise. Not. Classic KU drama. Preston, Bragg, Jackson, McLemore, Alexander, Shelby. Am I missing anyone? This gets old. Seems like every other year that KU will be waiting on the NCAA to clear an individual to play. Game 1 of the season, will De Sousa play? Game 2,3,4,5......15. Game 16 De Sousa decides to leave KU and enter the NBA. Gee this story’s sounds familiar. Same old story and we all know the ending of this story. What a disaster. Tiring, exhausting and just old. Drama.

Lawrence McGlinn 3 years, 3 months ago

All the NCAA bashing is predictable considering this situation is making life difficult for our B-ball team. The tone might be different if this were coming down on Kentucky. By the way, I don't doubt it is happening there, too. They just haven't been caught up as obviously in this particular case. I agree with those who say the whole amateurism thing is a joke. The NCAA has an impossible, almost silly function. There is money dripping from college sports. Look at the deal KU has with Adidas! I bet the KU Med Center could do a lot of good with an extra $190M, but people like us don't tune in to watch drug trials and gene splicing. Maybe we could get some good-looking doctors to wear Adidas scrubs and shoes designed for residents who are on their feet for 36 straight hours! Anyway, elite basketball players are commodities, and everyone is making $$, sometimes even the players and their families.

Mike Barnhart 3 years, 3 months ago

DeSosa’s guardian runs a shoe sponsored AAU program who funnels players to “prep schools” sponsored by the same shoe company. If the player attends a “prep school” sponsored by a different shoe company, a payoff is made to the guardian.

It’s totally conceivable that the players and families had no idea about the back room deals. Probably a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation.

Dee Shaw 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Joe. How could I forget Diallo. One of my all time favorites. The signs that read “Free Diallo”. On a player that contributed nothing to KU. A lot of wasted energy, time and money on that situation. De Sousa actually will contribute to this team. You could see his upside big time last year when he began playing more in the Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament. I think in order for KU to cut the nets down in March De Sousa has to be apart of this team somehow. I’m just worried that this situation will drag on forever and he will simply say screw this I am outta here. Typical NCAA dragging things out that I think could be resolved in a few weeks. Not 3 or 4 months.

Joe Black 3 years, 3 months ago

The NCAA actually hasn't said or done anything about this situation yet. They may not do anything and just let the court deal with the legal side of the whole mess. At this point in time, the NCAA has no issue with DeSousa eligibility. It would be up to KU to decide if it is worth the risk to play a guy that might someday in the future be retroactively ineligible. As you stated earlier there have been a lot of guys that sat out waiting for word from the NCAA concerning eligibility. That is the difference between Bill Self and some of the other coaches, he errs on the side of caution and doesn't play anyone if there is even one small chance that it could penalize the school.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

@Joe Black..just having DeSousa's name tied to this should be enough to sit him..hell, Self sat Preston last year without the NCAA telling him that he has evidence of Silvio's situation, I hope he sits him..not worth risking a whole season over 1 kid

Kit Duncan 3 years, 3 months ago


The NCAA is not some evil organization bent on the destruction of college athletics, particularly at KU. Member universities (including KU) make up the NCAA. It's a self-governing organization.

"The NCAA Infractions committee is made up of qualified representatives from member schools, including university presidents, conference commissioners, campus administrators, faculty athletics representatives, former coaches and more."

Dane Pratt 3 years, 3 months ago

The defense strategy sounds like victim blaming.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

because it is...HC and Universities arent P.I firms..its impossible for a coach and school to know EVERYTHING a player and their family does..especially while they are still in isnt like the agents, AAU coaches and shoe company employees feel compelled to tell the schools they represent and the HC their every move..

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 3 months ago

THIS so much. NCAA can't blame schools for this crap. But who knew the freaking fbi is wiretapping schools? If that comes out in court the NCAA will likely act given their history. Why/how did the government even get into college athletics? It doesn't seem like an issue they pertain to.

Jeremy Wilhelm 3 years, 3 months ago

This isn't new information. These allegations have been part of the FBI indictment from the jump. The only change is that the allegation is now a confession. Frankly, I always figured the allegation would be born out in the proceedings. Not sure what this changes. If the identity of the recipient is De Sousa or his guardian, then that changes things considerably.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

the player DOES appear to be DeSousa..his guardian hasnt been named but its coming..IMO, the biggest change should be that now Self has enough reason to sit Silvio..none of this maybe or maybe not..the kid has been named and there is no reason to play him if now Self KNOWS there might be an issue..I dont think Silvio himself is guilty but Id rather them not risk the whole season just for him

David Morrison 3 years, 3 months ago

Until Coach Self tells the media that Silvio is not playing, I choose to believe he will play. The NCAA ruled Silvio eligible last year. Nothing has changed.

Craig Carson 3 years, 3 months ago

they ruled him eligible LAST YEAR and BEFORE all this FBI pay for play crap came out in the open..circumstances are now changed..not worth the risk of losing a season based on an ASSumption that he wont be ruled ineligible.HE NEEDS TO SIT PERIOD

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