adidas originals campus 80s AAU team New England Playaz that was linked to FBI investigation failed to register as nonprofit with AG’s office or disclose tax forms
A Western Massachusetts AAU basketball team whose financial links to disgraced former NBA agent Andrew Miller were revealed last week has operated for years without registering with the state Attorney General’s Office.
Public charities in Massachusetts, a category that can include nonprofit youth sports organizations, are required to register with the AG’s office and provide tax forms that are publicly released on the AG’s website. Gassnola was publicly linked to an ongoing FBI investigation last week.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura Healey told MassLive that the organization was not registered and that the AG’s office would reach out to them about the issue.
While some nonprofits are exempt from the registration requirement, charities are not. New England Playaz was a created as a charitable organization, according to its 2005 Articles of Organization.
Daniel Kelly, Gassnola’s personal attorney, said his client intends on fully complying with state rules.
“He’s going to speak with the person who does that and begin the process of complying,” Kelly said.
New England Playaz was created as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit, which are required by the IRS to allow the public to review their tax filings. MassLive has requested access to those documents.
Gassnola’s name surfaced in connection to the FBI’s wide ranging probe of corruption and bribery in college basketball last week, when Yahoo obtained and published a piece of discovery in the case: a balance sheet from the company owned by Miller, a former agent who gave up his certification in December after being linked to the scandal.
The 2015 balance sheet stated that Gassnola whose name was misspelled on the document had received $17,300 from ASM, Miller’s agency. The sum was listed as an asset on the balance sheet, suggesting that Miller expected the money back, but Gassnola’s attorney Daniel Kelly would not comment on specific details of the transfer.
But Kelly did confirm that Gassnola had accepted funds from Miller, saying the money was to provide support for an athlete who had declared for the NBA draft.
“It was money that (Gassnola) helped coordinate for a pre draft workout and coaching and related expenses to a pre draft workout for someone who had already declared for the draft,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he does not believe there are any criminal implications to the transfer, and while he would not comment on whether any NCAA rules were violated he emphasized that the player involved had already played his last college game when the money changed hands.
Gassnola, whose high level AAU program has a long record of team success and producing highly coveted prospects, had previously faced scrutiny for his relationship with ASM.
In 2012, the NCAA obtained an email from Miller to Gassnola and three other AAU team directors, suggesting an ongoing relationship between the agent and the teams a violation of NCAA rules, reported CBS News.
“We’re facing a summer with no revenue. Yet, everyone will expect their checks, expenses reimburse [sic], etc. I try to give a consistant [sic] platform inorder [sic] to facilitate production,” Miller wrote, according to the email. He was reinstated after the suspension.
Gassnola, whose program is sponsored by Adidas, has long been a controversial figure in Massachusetts’ AAU basketball scene though one beloved by many of his players. In 2006, the Boston Globe published a series of stories that accused Gassnola of plying players with merchandise, travel and reimbursements unrelated to basketball, contravening the NCAA’s amateurism rules.
At the time, Gassnola defended his actions as looking out for kids who often come from poverty, and denied paying athletes to play for him or taking bribes from colleges to direct players their way.
“I’m not proud of a lot of stuff, but the proudest thing in my life is that I’ve been able to build this program with a level of success,” Gassnola told the Globe. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”