Underwood's former assistant arrested on federal corruption charges

Underwood's former assistant arrested on federal corruption charges

NEW YORK — Four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, the University of Southern California and Oklahoma State were among those arrested on federal corruption charges Tuesday after they were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer NBA-destined college stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisers, authorities said.

The coaches were identified in court papers as Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Tony Bland of USC and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. They are in federal custody and expected to make court appearances later Tuesday.

Evans was part of first-year Illinois coach Brad Underwood's staff last season, Underwood's lone season with the Cowboys before Illinois hired him in mid-March.

Evans served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Underwood last season.

The four college basketball assistant coaches were among 10 people charged in Manhattan federal court. Others included managers, financial advisers and James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing at Adidas. The details were to be discussed at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Since 2015, the FBI has been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and players in the NCAA, federal authorities said.

In criminal complaints, investigators said many coaches have “enormous influence” over their players and how they select their agents and other advisers when they leave college and enter the NBA.

“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the papers said.

Person was arrested in Alabama; Bland in Tampa, Florida; Evans in Oklahoma; and Richardson in Arizona.

It was not immediately clear who will represent them in court. It was also not clear who will represent Gatto.

Person, the associate head coach at Auburn University, was selected by the Indiana Pacers as the fourth overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. He played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

A criminal complaint quoted Evans in several instances 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.”

Evans said it was necessary to use his influence over the youngsters early in their college careers because many of them are “one and done,” meaning they play one or two years of college ball before joining the NBA, according to court papers.


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cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on September 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

It will be interesting to see what other fish get caught in the fed's net.

MasterOfTheObvious wrote on September 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

As the head coach from Oklahoma State, Underwood is responsible for the actions of his assistants, in the eyes of the NCAA.  https://s3.amazonaws.com/sidearm.sites/sfajacks.com/documents/2017/6/7/HC_Res_Leg_Memo.pdf

Aside from the 2016-17 season at Oklahoma State, Evans and Underwood spent five seasons together on the staffs at Kansas State and South Carolina. That's a 6-year relationship.  You tend to really know someone after 6 years, so if Evans is dirty, is it beyond a reasonable doubt to deduce that Underwood may have some mud on him?

What did Underwood have to say about Evans when he hired him in 2016 at OSU?

"We're very fortunate to have Lamont join the Cowboy family," said Underwood. "I take tremendous comfort with Lamont in terms of who he is and what he stands for. His ability to work and interact with our players is second to none. He has established recruiting ties all over the country, and I consider him one of the top recruiters in the country. There's no doubt he'll benefit our program and our student-athletes for years to come."



BruckJr wrote on September 26, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Underwood has hired Orlando Antigua as an assistant here after he was fired from his head coaching job at South Florida, a school under NCAA investigation for academic fraud during Antigua's term.  #WeWillWin

jk3363 wrote on September 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Antigua was cleared of wrongdoing. 


I suppose the dominos will fall. Should it get to Underwood, we can take comfort that the rest of College basketball will be a smoking crater as well in the meantime. Louisville is toast. My theory is that something would have been found by now regarding Underwood. FBI doesn't cut corners. 

Not sure why you guys are so intent to see the program fail though. 

wayward wrote on September 26, 2017 at 2:09 pm

At the risk of sounding mean, I'd guess the schools involved would probably have had multiple athletes with NBA potential.  So I doubt Illinois has to worry about any of its staff getting caught up in the investigation.  Not sure that the head coaches would have known -- some of the assistants might have been closer to the players.

MasterOfTheObvious wrote on September 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

How naive are you?  Underwood seems to be the type of guy who comes off like the "aw shucks" guy but in reality he has guy all around him who are proven scumbags.  

Nice background check Josh.

wayward wrote on September 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

The point was that the assistant coaches would have been close enough to the players to interact with them directly, and there probably wouldn't have been any incentive to let the head coach know what was going on.  Why risk getting shut down or having to share the money?

jk3363 wrote on September 26, 2017 at 6:09 pm

So explain how Walker and Coleman are morally questionable? I've seen nothing of the sort. 

I can guess what you will say about Antigua, but he was cleared of wrong doing at USF.

culaghter wrote on September 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

..no wonder it's so hard to get players to come here...

basset wrote on September 26, 2017 at 8:09 pm

What did he know and when did he know it.  If the Chancellor and Athletic Director don't ask those questions, they are irresponsible and if there are proven charges in the long run, the list of firings or resignations should include them.  No excuses.  Hear that Loren Tate?

Merriam-Webster wrote on September 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm

This is all pretty simple. Its a FACT that NCAA rules were broken by the Assistant from Oklahoma State. The Boeheim Rule states that the HEAD COACH is responsible for the actions of his assistant. Underwood was the head coach. Underwood hired him Underwood knew this guy's character when he hired him at Oklahoma State, having worked with him at TWO OTHER SCHOOLS prior. So, either Underwood is a CHEAT and knew this guy was dirty, and didn't care, or, he's an idiot for working with someone for 6 years and not knowing he was a cheat. My guess is he's a CHEAT.

Annotator wrote on September 30, 2017 at 11:09 am

The modus operandi of most federal investigations of criminal misconduct is from the bottom up.  The investigators have a lot of incriminating testimony from lower level staff and students on what was said, and who was paid, before these charges were made and people were in custody.  There will be more charges, and people taken into custody, as the charges are read to the current level of people now in custody, testify against the next level above them.

The U of I will see not just athletic staff being investigated.  Sadly, depending on how you view the proceedings, that will include administrators, and those who approved the hiring of all of them.  That includes the BoT members, for not performing a competent evaluation of all administrators in athletics and their subordinates.