University of Miami

Text messages presented at college basketball trial seem to further clear UM Hurricanes

A new batch of evidence presented Monday at the college basketball trial in New York seems to further clear the Miami Hurricanes of any potential wrongdoing in association with their recruitment of Nassir Little.

United States v. James Gatto resumed Monday after a three-day recess and a series of text messages were presented into evidence. Among the texts presented was an exchange from Aug. 6, 2017, between Brad Augustine, Little’s Amateur Athletic Union coach, and Christian Dawkins, who allegedly served as a middleman for Adidas in their monetary exchanges. In the messages, Dawkins tells Augustine that Little’s family wasn’t accepting any money.

“That’s the issue with him going to an Adidas school because the family isn’t taking it,” Dawkins wrote, according to The News & Observer.

“So do I need to say the family’s taking it?” Augustine wrote in return.

“I just worry about it getting back to them,” Dawkins responded.

Little, who is now a freshman with the North Carolina Tar Heels, was a five-star prospect in the composite rankings. A wiretapped phone call between Gatto and fellow Adidas executive Merl Code Jr. initially dragged Little’s name into the college basketball corruption scandal, but Little and his family have steadfastly denied accusations they accepted money. The text exchange between Dawkins and Augustine seems to support the family’s insistence, as well as Miami’s claims of innocence.

The wiretapped phone call, which helped lead to the arrest of both Gatto and Code last year, was entered into evidence Thursday in New York. On the call, Code told Gatto that Arizona had offered $150,000 for Little. Gatto and Code then discussed whether Adidas would be able to match the payment in order to steer Little to an Adidas-sponsored school. Neither Gatto nor Code mentioned whether the Hurricanes were aware, and none of the evidence nor testimony presented have suggested Miami was aware of such discussions.

In opening arguments Oct. 2, defense attorney Steve Haney accused Augustine of attmpeting to con money from Adidas.

“Nobody ever had a single conversation or dialogue with the family of Nassir Little, and never had a single intention of giving Nassir Little or his family money in exchange for a commitment to the University of Miami,” Haney said. “You are not going to hear any evidence of that because it doesn’t exist.”

Little, who attended Orlando Christian Prep, ultimately committed to North Carolina, where he is now a projected lottery pick. The Hurricanes failed to sign a single high school player in its Class of 2018 at least in part due to their ongoing ties to the investigation.

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