NC State ‘reluctantly’ agrees to have independent panel hear NCAA infractions case

NC State
North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (4) dunks against Virginia Tech during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N_316553

N.C. State says it has ‘reluctantly’ agreed to have its infractions case that centers on Dennis Smith Jr. (4) be heard by an independent panel.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina State says it “reluctantly” agrees with the NCAA’s recommendation that the infractions case centered on the recruitment of former Fayetteville star Dennis Smith Jr. be heard by a newly created independent panel.

The school released its response to the NCAA on Wednesday, five days after the agency recommended the use of the Independent Accountability Resolution Process to resolve the case – and not a hearing before the NCAA’s committee on infractions, which for years had been the standard for such resolutions.

“We’ve stated throughout this process that N.C. State will accept accountability for any shortcomings and defend ourselves aggressively where we feel it is appropriate and necessary to do so,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement. “We do not think NC State can receive an objective or fair hearing before the Committee on Infractions in this matter. We believe the only remaining option is that our case be moved to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.”

The new process was established two years ago after the commission chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recommended sweeping changes following the corruption scandal in the sport. The panel will consist of “independent investigators, advocates and adjudicators” who will review certain high-profile cases in Division I.

The school argued in its response that “based upon the Referral Petition, NC State believes it cannot receive an objective or fair hearing before the” infractions committee, saying it prejudges the school on issues of facts.

N.C. State said it “does not oppose referral to the IARP” but is proceeding “reluctantly and under protest” because of concerns about the new system in which there is no means for appealing a decision. In its response, the school hinted at the possibility of a lawsuit, saying it “does not concede its substantive right to appeal.

“Further, in light of the various concerns described herein, NC State also reserves all rights and remedies, both within and outside of the NCAA structure.”

The school also pointed out that IARP did not exist when the case started but became effective on Aug. 1, 2019, roughly three weeks after N.C. State received its notice of allegations detailing four charges, two of which are considered top-level counts. The school and NCAA have traded written arguments over the past nine months.

The NCAA has alleged that from 2014-17, former assistant coach Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible inducements and benefits — including $40,000 that former Adidas consultant TJ Gassnola testified he delivered to Early and was intended for Smith’s family in 2015.

N.C. State wrote that it disagrees with both the NCAA’s use of trial testimony as established fact “and not merely as ‘evidence submitted” and with the NCAA’s assertion that Gassnola and Adidas – which supplies the school with shoes, uniforms and other apparel – should be considered “boosters.”

The less-severe charges are centered on complimentary admissions on the program’s guest pass list. Among the minor penalties the school self-imposed are a $5,000 fine and the reduction of a scholarship during a future season.

The school has already self-imposed minor penalties for those lesser charges, including a future scholarship reduction, recruiting restrictions and a $5,000 fine.

Smith’s only season playing for N.C. State was in 2016-17, when the Wolfpack finished 15-17 and fired coach Mark Gottfried late during that season. Smith, who plays for the New York Knicks, is in his third season in the NBA.

Neither current coach Kevin Keatts nor his staff are linked to the case.

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