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USC Hit With Probation, Restrictions for Bribery Scandal

Brock Fritz

After three-plus years of waiting, the University of Southern California men’s basketball program can begin to move on after hearing the results of an investigation into the role a former assistant coach played in college basketball’s widespread bribery scandal.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced Thursday that USC has been placed on two years’ probation and handed recruiting restrictions following an investigation into Tony Bland. Without naming Bland, the committee’s release said that a former USC associate head coach “violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he accepted a $4,100 bribe from a business management company to influence student-athletes.”

"Despite the former associate head coach's underlying violations, the committee noted that unlike other individuals in similar cases, he met his obligation when he participated in the NCAA investigation and provided information relevant to the investigation," the NCAA’s release on the investigation reads. "The committee also noted that the school displayed exemplary cooperation and self-imposed significant and meaningful penalties in line with the NCAA membership's penalty guidelines."

The committee, which classified the case as Level I-mitigated for the school and Level I-standard for the former associate head coach, handed down the following penalties:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.
  • A reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by a total of two during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of men’s basketball official visits to 20 during the 2018-19/2019-20 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction in the number of men’s basketball recruiting person days by 20 during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

"Our men's basketball program is pleased the NCAA has come to a resolution on this case," USC head coach Andy Enfield said in a statement, according to CBS Sports. "This was a comprehensive process, and we are looking forward to moving on. We are grateful for all the support provided by our university leadership, especially President Carol L. Folt and Athletic Director Mike Bohn, as well as our compliance and legal teams. We remain committed to winning with integrity and dedicated to providing the best possible experience for all of our student-athletes."

USC has been dealing with the investigation since Sept. 26, 2017, “when FBI agents arrested the men’s basketball associate head coach in connection with an indictment and federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleged that the associate head coach accepted cash bribes from a professional sports agent in exchange for influencing student-athletes to retain the services of the agent’s management company when the student-athletes entered the NBA.”

Related content: USC Men’s Basketball Receives Notice of Allegations

Bland was initially placed on leave before being fired in January 2018. USC received an NCAA notice of allegations in December 2019. According to CBS Sports, Bland pleaded guilty in January 2019 to a felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery and received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

As part of a plea deal, Bland acknowledged that he accepted a bribe during a July 2017 meeting with financial advisors and business managers in exchange for directing basketball players to retain their services.

The NCAA’s release specified that the association’s rules prevent athletics department staff members from receiving benefits “for facilitating or arranging a meeting between a student-athlete and an agent, financial advisor, or representative of an agent or advisor. Athletics staff members are also prohibited from representing, directly or indirectly, any individual in the marketing of their athletics ability or reputation to an agency and from accepting compensation for the representation.”

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