What to Know
- The investigation looked into allegations of bribes paid to coaching staff members to exert influence over players
- The federal investigation involving prominent Division I coaching staffs began in 2015
- Four coaches were arrested Monday night
Four NCAA assistant basketball coaches -- including Anthony Bland of USC -- have been indicted in a fraud and corruption scheme alleging they accepted bribes from either athlete business managers, financial advisers or an athletic apparel company, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors in New York said Bland accepted at least $13,000 in bribes from a pair of "athlete advisers" between June and September, in exchange for Bland influencing players to hire the advisers when they began playing in the NBA.
Prosecutors contend that Bland told the advisers, "I definitely can get the players. ... And I can definitely mold the players and put them in the lap of you guys."
At Bland's direction, the advisers also paid another $9,000 to the families of two USC players, and Bland set up a meeting between the advisers and a relative of a USC player, prosecutors contend.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York did not name the players.
USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann released a statement saying the university was caught off-guard by the development.
"We were shocked to learn this morning through news reports about the FBI investigation and arrests related to NCAA basketball programs, including the arrest of USC assistant coach Tony Bland," Swann said. "USC Athletics maintains the highest standards in athletic compliance across all of our programs and does not tolerate misconduct in any way. We will cooperate fully with the investigation and will assist authorities as needed, andn if these allegations are true, will take the needed actions."
Bland, 37, is facing charges of bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Travel Act conspiracy. He faces up to 80 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors.
In addition to Bland, the assistant coaches named in the indictment are Chuck Person of Auburn, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State and Emmanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona. The FBI alleges in one unsealed complaint that "Person abused his coaching position (at Auburn) to solicit or obtain bribe payments" from a financial adviser for professional athletes, according to USA Today.
The adviser, who was not named in the indictment, was secretly working with law enforcement as part of the investigation. Over a 10-month period, the financial adviser allegedly paid about $91,500 in bribes to Person in exchange for Person "agreeing to direct certain (Auburn) basketball players to retain the services (of the financial adviser) when those student-athletes entered the NBA."
The two advisers who allegedly paid bribes to Bland -- 24-year-old Christian Dawkins and 45-year-old Munish Sood -- are each facing up to 200 years in prison under the charges in the indictment. Federal prosecutors said the bribery investigation revealed a second alleged scheme in which executives at a top athletic apparel company funneled bribes to high school basketball players to steer them toward attending universities that had sponsorship agreements with the company.
"The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one -- coaches at some of the nation's top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said.
Mike Blanton, the vice president for athletic compliance, said in a statement that Bland was placed on administrative leave and the university has hired former FBI director Louis J. Freeh and his firm Freeh Group International Solutions, to work with school officials in an internal investigation.
"USC places the highest priority on athletic compliance and is taking this situation very seriously," Blanton said. "This morning, we reached out proactively to both the NCAA and the FBI to pledge our full cooperation and to learn more details. Everyone associated with the program will cooperate fully with these investigations and will assist authorities as needed."