USC gets notice of allegations tied to fed probe

USC officials acknowledged Friday that the university has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding alleged violations in its men’s basketball program.

Sources previously told ESPN that USC was one of several Division I programs under investigation by the NCAA because of alleged rules violations that surfaced during two recent federal criminal cases in the Southern District of New York.

In a statement on Friday, USC officials said the notice of allegations was “related to a former coach in the men’s basketball program.”

Former Trojans assistant coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty in January to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting he accepted $4,100 in cash to steer players at the school to certain financial advisers and business managers once they turned pro.

“USC has cooperated with the NCAA since it first became aware of the issues raised in the Notice of Allegations,” the statement said. “Because the notice involves a pending NCAA case, USC is unable to discuss any of the allegations in or facts relating to the case. USC looks forward to an expeditious resolution of this matter.”

USC is the fourth Division I program to receive an NCAA notice of allegations related to the federal investigation, joining Kansas, NC State and Oklahoma State. Sources previously told ESPN that Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Louisville and LSU were also under scrutiny by NCAA investigators.

Bland and three other former Division I assistant coaches — Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn’s Chuck Person and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans — were among 10 men arrested by federal agents in September 2017 following a two-year clandestine investigation into bribes and other corruption in college basketball.

In January 2018, USC suspended guard De’Anthony Melton for the entire season after determining a close family friend received an extra benefit. That friend, Dave Elliott, allegedly took a plane ticket and possibly payment for a hotel room at a basketball event in Las Vegas, according to Melton’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky. Melton withdrew from the school the next month and turned pro. He was a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 2018 NBA draft and currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.

In June, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos sentenced Bland to 100 hours of community service and two years’ probation. During the sentencing, Ramos said the debate over whether college basketball players should be paid “plays no role in the way I thought about this case.”

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