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DeAndre Ayton, 4 others paid by Adidas, former consultant says

TUCSON – Former Arizona Wildcat and Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton was recently named as one of five players who received payments on behalf of Adidas in the testimony of a former consultant of the athletic apparel company Wednesday.

Deandre Ayton at the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Boys Game/ creative commons

According to Adam Zagoria, a reporter with SportsNet New York, the Adidas consultant, TJ Gassnola testified in a New York federal court Wednesday. He said that he paid Ayton’s father on behalf of the company.

In an interview with News 4 Tucson sports anchor, Paul Cicala, Zagoria said the former consultant confirmed the payment was meant to be a secret operation. He said this suggests that the coaches and schools involved may not have been aware of the transaction.

Arizona assistant coach, Book Richardson was arrested by FBI agents back in 2017 for bribery charges related to this investigation.

Richarson’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He's a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine. After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester. Email Noel at
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