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South Carolina Hires Investigator After Ex-Coach Charged

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

The University of South Carolina is hiring an outside investigator after a former assistant men's basketball coach was charged in a nationwide bribery scandal this week.

The Gamecocks also said Friday that neither the university nor any current or former Gamecock staffers are targets in a federal probe examining corruption on college athletics outside of Lamont Evans, who spent four seasons in Columbia.

USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner said the Gamecocks will hire an "independent third party that specializes in NCAA matters" to review issues raised in the charges filed against 10 coaches, financial advisers, agents and employees of a sneaker maker released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

"Our review will be conducted in coordination with the Department of Justice and the NCAA in a collaborative manner," Tanner said in statement.

Tanner said the review will "proactively demonstrate our commitment to integrity and compliance." USC conducted its own review and set self-imposed sanctions in 2012 when the football, men's basketball and track programs provided extra benefits to recruits. The NCAA praised the Gamecocks for their review and agreed with penalties levied by the school.

Other schools fingered in the recent federal probe - Louisville and Miami - have announced they are under FBI investigation. Those two universities were involved in accusations that Adidas funneled $100,000 to $150,000 to high school stars so they would play at colleges sponsored by the shoemaker.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was placed on unpaid leave after the charges were revealed. Other schools involved - including Auburn, Arizona, Southern Cal and Alabama - have already announced suspensions, firings and internal reviews.

The NCAA, blindsided by the FBI investigation along with the rest of the country, has not informed any school involved that it is under inquiry. Federal prosecutors said they have spoken with the NCAA but declined to say if they shared documents from their investigation.

Evans was charged with accepting $22,000 in bribes to steer advisers to star players while he coached at USC and Oklahoma State in 2016 and 2017. Evans, who spent eight seasons working under Frank Martin at USC and Kansas State, was fired by the Cowboys on Thursday.

Evans told an informant that he wanted to pay a Gamecock player, described as a possible first-round draft pick in the 2017 NBA draft, and his family to make sure the assistant coach continued to have influence in suggesting advisers, according to the complaint. Federal documents do not identify the player or say if any payments were made.

Martin, who led the Gamecocks men's team to its first NCAA Tournament Final Four appearance last season, has not spoken about the charges against Evans. Contacted by The Post and Courier this week, Martin declined to talk, saying he would discuss the Evans charges later.

The Gamecocks start practice on Monday and open the season in an exhibition game against Erskine College on Oct. 30. USC begins the regular season at Wofford on Nov. 10.​

Even if he did not know about Evans' actions, the NCAA could hold Martin responsible for failing to promote rules compliance under his watch if an investigation is launched, an expert said.

Tanner stressed USC has "an extensive education and monitoring program and conducts regular training sessions with coaches and student athletes on NCAA rules."

"Our efforts have been praised and we expect this review will affirm that once again," he added.

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September 30, 2017
 
 
 

 

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