Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tony Bland, former Southern Cal assistant, pleads guilty to bribery in college basketball

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Former USC assistant basketball coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a wide-ranging Justice Department investigation of corruption in college basketball.

In a hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Bland, 38, admitted to taking $4,100 in exchange for agreeing to try to steer USC players to a sports agency and a financial adviser. While his plea agreement acknowledged a possible sentence of up to one year in prison, Bland, who has no prior criminal record, is expected to receive probation. The agreement makes no mention of Bland cooperating with authorities by providing information or testifying against others.

“Tony Bland . . . abused his position as a mentor and coach to student-athletes and aspiring professionals,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “He treated his players not as young men to counsel and guide, but as opportunities to enrich himself.”

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Bland was fired by USC not long after he was arrested in September 2017, along with former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans and former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson. The other coaches are scheduled to stand separate trials this spring in New York, along with a luxury tailor, a former Adidas consultant and an aspiring NBA agent, all on similar charges related to arranging or accepting bribes to secure the future business of college players with NBA potential.

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