Reports: Smith denied receiving money at NC State

Former North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. denied that he or anyone else in his family received a $40,000 payment to attend the school, according to public records.

The information was released Tuesday to the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., as part of a public records request.

Smith told North Carolina State officials on April 30 that he wasn’t aware of any payments.

The allegations regarding Smith emerged as part of a federal indictment and criminal trial in 2018 on recruiting corruption. Former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola testified that he made two payments to people close to Smith.

Gassnola indicated the first payment occurred while Smith was a junior in high school. He said the second payment was made in the fall of 2015 when Smith was wavering about his decision to verbally commit to NC State.

Smith, who now plays for the NBA’s New York Knicks, chose the Wolfpack over Duke. Smith was asked about the decision during his meeting with NC State that included deputy athletic director Chris Boyer, assistant athletic director for compliance Steve Shults and senior associate athletic director for compliance Carrie Doyle.

“Smith said that was easy,” according to a memo in the report. “He said his grandmother was a long-time fan of NC State and wanted him to attend. Smith said that he only took one official visit, which was to NC State. He said that his final two schools were Duke and NC State, and when Duke signed a point guard that clinched it for him that he would attend NC State.”

According to the memo, Smith told NC State officials this about the reported sum of cash: “If he had accepted money he would not have been driving his grandmother’s car.”

NC State received a notice of allegations from the NCAA in July. The school was charged with two Level I violations — the most serious type — as well as a failure to monitor charge against former coach Mark Gottfried.

The initial deadline for the school’s response was Oct. 7, but the News & Observer said an email from the NCAA to the university shows the deadline has been pushed back to after Nov. 20.

According to previous reports, former NC State assistant coach Orlando Early was the go-between from Gassnola to Smith’s family for payments. Early told attorneys that Gottfried provided him with envelopes of money to deliver to Smith’s trainer.

Gottfried, now the coach at Cal State Northridge, has denied the allegations.

Smith was the ACC Freshman of the Year in his one season (2016-17) at NC State and was the ninth overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2017 draft. He was traded to the New York Knicks during last season.

North Carolina State was the first school to receive a notice of allegations stemming from the corruption trials. Kansas became the second earlier this week.