NCAA basketball coaches charged as FBI uncovers bribery scheme
Former South Carolina men’s basketball coach Lamont Evans was among four assistants arrested on federal corruption charges Tuesday after they were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer college players toward certain sports agents and financial advisers, federal authorities said.
While at South Carolina and later at Oklahoma State, Evans received at least $22,000 in bribes, according to court documents.
Evans was an assistant at South Carolina under Frank Martin from 2012-16, before being hired at Oklahoma State in April 2016. Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that Evans was suspended indefinitely.
Evans was hired at Oklahoma State when Brad Underwood, also a former Gamecocks assistant, became head coach. Evans remained on staff when Mike Boynton, a former South Carolina player and coach, was promoted to head coach in March, after Underwood’s departure to Illinois.
Evans is credited by many with recruiting NCAA Tournament stars Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier to South Carolina.
South Carolina officials said Tuesday they are “aware that former assistant men’s basketball coach Lamont Evans has been charged by federal prosecutors.”
“These are serious accusations that are not consistent with University of South Carolina values. Behavior like this will not be tolerated in our programs. Of course, we will cooperate with investigators and we look forward to justice being done in this case. Because this is an ongoing criminal matter, we will have no further comment.”
A criminal complaint quoted Evans bragging about his ability to steer the young athletes toward prospective agents and advisers, promising them that “every guy I recruit and get is my personal kid” and that he had the capability to “bury” any other athlete advisers who tried to recruit his players to sign with them.
According to the papers, Evans expected $2,000 a month for his services, though he might ask for an extra $5,000 to $7,000 “at the end of the day for delivering” a specific athlete.
In explaining his decision to leave South Carolina for Oklahoma State in the documents released, Evans said it was a “better job” because it was “(b)etter players, more, more, more business.”
Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA, federal authorities said.
In addition to Evans, the assistant coaches were identified as Chuck Person of Auburn, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona and Tony Bland of Southern Cal. Among the six others charged were managers, financial advisers and the director of global sports marketing at Adidas.
Federal prosecutors said at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000 – using money supplied by Adidas – to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn’t name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.
“The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” said acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim at a news conference. “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.
“For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,” Kim said. “Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.