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College basketball bribers slapped with more prison time for payouts to coaches

New York Daily News — Stephen Rex Brown New York Daily News

Oct. 05--Two basketball bribers already convicted of paying the families of prized prospects were slapped with more prison time this week for secret payments to coaches.

Aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins faces a year and a half for his bribery schemes. His partner-in-bribes, former Adidas consultant Merl Code, faces nine months total.

The men were convicted in separate trials that turned a spotlight on the sleazy world of college athletics, where brands, agents and hangers-on all compete for a slice of the fortune elite awaiting young basketball players upon turning pro.

In March, Dawkins and Code were sentenced to six months each for a plot to bribe players attending Adidas-sponsored colleges. In separate proceedings this week, Judge Edgardo Ramos sentenced Dawkins to a year and a day and Code to three months. The second scheme involved payments to coaches who steered players to select managers for handling money once the players turned pro.

"Christian Dawkins and Merl Code have now been sentenced to prison a second time for their roles in corrupting the world of college basketball. The sentences imposed this week should make crystal clear to other members of the basketball underground exposed during the various prosecutions brought by this office that bribery is still a crime, even if the recipient is a college basketball coach," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Ramos said Dawkins lied on the witness stand. But he noted inequities in the case that allowed some people to avoid prosecution. Former University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Kansas head coach Bill Self and University of Arizona coach Sean Miller were mentioned frequently in testimony but never charged.

Four former assistant basketball coaches have pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy in the case.

Dawkins sobbed before he was sentenced on Thursday, saying his "remorse is not for myself but for the pain and embarrassment I've caused others." He said what he did "wasn't worth it."

Code and Dawkins both plan to purse appeals attacking some of the novel legal theories in the case.

With News Wire Services

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