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USC’s basketball program receives formal notice of allegations from NCAA

USC head coach Andy Enfield questions a call against South Dakota State at the Galen Center on Nov. 12.
USC head coach Andy Enfield questions a call against South Dakota State at the Galen Center on Nov. 12.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

In the wake of a federal investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball which implicated several blue blood programs and led to the indictment of a former USC assistant coach, the Trojans’ basketball program received a formal notice of allegations from the NCAA.

In a statement Friday from the university, USC noted that it “has cooperated with the NCAA since it first became aware of the issues raised in the Notice of Allegations.”

The allegations presumably refer to former assistant Tony Bland, who was fired by USC in January 2018. The notice from the NCAA arrives more than two years after Bland and nine others were arrested and faced charges of fraud and bribery, following a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball.

Last January, Bland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. As a part of his plea, the former assistant admitted to accepting a $4,100 bribe, before receiving two years probation.

Nick Rakocevic scored with 0.2 seconds left after a miss by Ethan Anderson, lifting USC to an 80-78 triumph that moves the Trojans to 8-2.
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But for USC and other five programs ensnared in the investigation, the fallout appears to only just be beginning. USC faces the looming prospect of major NCAA violations which could include punishments ranging from a postseason ban to a show-cause penalty to potential scholarship reductions.

As he pleaded guilty, Bland admitted in a New York courtroom that he “agreed to receive payments in exchange for directing basketball players from the University of Southern California … to retain the services of certain financial advisors and business managers.”

Since, USC hasn’t been forced to answer for its former assistant’s misdeeds, nor has it faced any consequences stemming from his guilty plea. Now, with an NCAA case officially opened, that could soon change.

The notice of allegations had long been expected, but the NCAA’s timeline for ruling on USC’s case is uncertain. The NCAA opened similar cases against North Carolina State, Kansas, and Oklahoma State this year.

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During an October visit to the Coliseum, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott expressed frustration that the NCAA’s investigation was moving too slowly.

“We want this cloud lifted,” Scott said at halftime of USC’s loss to Oregon. “If there are outcomes or penalties that need to arise from that, everyone wants to kind of get on with that and move forward.”

In its statement, USC said it “looks forward to an expeditious resolution of this matter.”


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