Former Adidas consultant sentenced to probation

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NEW YORK (AP) - A former Adidas consultant was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation after prosecutors credited him with helping secure convictions against an executive for the shoe company and two others in a college basketball corruption scandal.

Thomas "T.J." Gassnola had pleaded guilty to being a fixer in a scheme to lure prized prospects to Adidas-sponsored hoops programs by funneling tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments to their families.

"I'm sorry for the harm I caused in this matter," Gassnola said at the hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan imposed the light sentence after being told in court papers that Gassnola's cooperation was critical in expanding the scope of the investigation and providing an "insider's view" of the corrupting influence of corporate money on college basketball.

Gassnola, 47, became a key government witness at a trial last year in Manhattan where the self-described "recruitment facilitator" caused a stir by dropping the names of several top players at the center of the scandal and referring to the deal-making as "black ops."

Asked what he meant by that, he responded, "It's dark. Underground. You don't want anyone to know about it."

While working under the direction of Adidas executive James Gatto, he said he paid out $15,000 in cash in 2015 to try to lure DeAndre Ayton to an Adidas school only to see him sign with Nike-sponsored Arizona. Ayton attended Arizona for his freshman season before being drafted No. 1 in the NBA by the Phoenix Suns.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - New York Jets defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd was suspended six games Tuesday by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancers.

Shepherd will be eligible to return to the Jets' active roster on Oct. 28, following New York's game at Jacksonville.

Shepherd was inactive for the Jets' season opener against Buffalo on Sunday

PRO BASEBALL

BALTIMORE (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh consecutive NL West title in fitting fashion, using two home runs by Corey Seager and a masterful pitching performance by Walker Buehler to beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 on Tuesday night.

After the final out, the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season gathered at the mound for a subdued celebration that included a wardrobe change for a pending champagne celebration in the clubhouse.

Los Angeles, coming off consecutive World Series losses to Houston and Boston and seeking its first title since 1988, will likely begin the postseason at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 3 against the NL wild-card team.

PRO HOCKEY

The New Jersey Devils have re-signed restricted free agent center Pavel Zacha to a three-year, $6.75 million contract.

The signing on Tuesday happened days before the Devils open training camp.

In a statement released by the team Tuesday, Shero said he was pleased to have the contract completed and called Zacha an "important part of our team."

AUTO RACING

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Paul Menard has decided to walk away from NASCAR's top level after more than 460 races and Wood Brothers Racing is replacing him with Matt DiBenedetto in the iconic No. 21 Ford next season.

After spending 16 years in the Cup Series, Menard, 39, said Tuesday he wants to step back from full-time racing to spend more time with his family.

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