Southern California

USC Fires Assistant Basketball Coach Tony Bland, Charged in Pay-for-Play Scandal

Bland was one of 10 arrested as part of a scandal in which schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment

Southern California has fired associate head coach Tony Bland in the wake of his arrest in the college basketball bribery and corruption case.

A school spokesman confirmed Bland's firing on Thursday, but offered no other details. He had been on administrative leave since his arrest in September. He was on USC's staff for 4 1/2 years.

Bland was one of 10 people arrested in the case. Three other assistants -- Chuck Person of Auburn, Book Richardson of Arizona and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State -- were also fired as part of the FBI probe, which revealed a pay-for-play scandal where schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment.

Bland pleaded not guilty in November to four charges relating to bribery and wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors in New York alleged that Bland received a $13,000 bribe in July from would-be agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood in exchange for steering USC players to use their services when they became professionals.

USC guard D'Anthony Melton was ruled ineligible this season because of the case involving Bland, who was accused by prosecutors of facilitating payments to Melton.

Melton, who wasn't named in the complaint but identified by his attorney, cooperated by giving USC cellphone records and bank statements. His attorney, Vicki Podberesky, has maintained throughout the investigation that Melton knew nothing about any violations.


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However, while USC investigated David Elliott, a Melton family friend, other NCAA violations surfaced, and the school announced earlier this month that Melton wouldn't play this season.

USC coach Andy Enfield has been a staunch defender of Melton, insisting the sophomore did nothing wrong.

Enfield also supported Bland in comments last fall before the season began.

"We all love Tony," Enfield said. "It's very difficult on a personal level; it's very difficult on a program level because we all had great relationships with each other. We're going to go on and try to prepare for the season. Obviously, we have to get through this part of it, but it is emotional and challenging."

Enfield said he found out about the situation at the same time Bland was arrested as part of the sting.

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