Independent panel to rule on N.C. State recruitment case

New York Knicks' Dennis Smith Jr. plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
New York Knicks' Dennis Smith Jr. plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The NCAA said Monday a case involving alleged recruiting infractions at North Carolina State will go through an independent investigation process created for complex cases.

The case involves the recruitment of former Wolfpack one-and-done star Dennis Smith Jr. The NCAA has charged N.C. State with four violations, including former head coach Mark Gottfried being charged individually under the provision of head coach responsibility for violations within his program.

Specifically, the NCAA has alleged ex-assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible benefits - including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith's family in 2015.

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The school agreed to have the case referred to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), which the NCAA developed last year. The panel is a product of proposals from the commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform college basketball amid a federal corruption investigation into the sport.

The process includes independent investigators and decision makers with no direct ties to NCAA member schools, and rulings cannot be appealed.

In its announcement, the NCAA said details about the matter will remain confidential until the Independent Resolution Panel releases a decision.

The NCAA announced in March that Memphis' case involving star freshman basketball player James Wiseman would go that route, becoming the first to enter the process.

N.C. State has argued the NCAA had not proven money was actually provided to Smith or his family, noting Smith - picked ninth in the 2017 NBA draft after one year in Raleigh - denied receiving money in a school interview in 2019.

Attorneys for Gottfried, now coach at Cal State Northridge, have questioned the fairness of the process and argued Gottfried fulfilled obligations to monitor the program.

The NCAA enforcement staff's response in February held firm that violations had occurred.

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