Former University of Pennsylvania head coach Jerome Allen, a current Boston Celtics assistant, testified in court Friday that he took approximately $300,000 in bribes to get a Florida businessman’s son into Penn via a spot on the basketball roster.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Allen’s testimony was part of a federal fraud trial involving a Florida healthcare executive. The bribes involving Allen, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges in October, were overheard on a federal wiretap in the case involving Philip Esformes, who is accused of stealing millions at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Allen, the head coach for the Quakers from 2010 to 2015, testified that he “accepted the money to get Morris Esformes into the school.”
“I got his son into Penn. I got his son into Wharton. None of that would have happened without me,” Allen testified.
According to the Inquirer, Allen testified that Esformes told him he would be “family for life” if he helped his son get into Penn and on the basketball team. At first, that seemed truthful with Esformes flying Allen to Miami — where Allen trained Morris (an NCAA violation) — and giving him bags of cash and later transporting money via wire transfers. In all, Allen said he was given around $300,000.
“When I extend myself to someone, and if they tell me we’re family for life, I take it seriously,’’ Allen testified. “I took it to mean he was going to make sure I was going to be taken care of as well.”
Esformes’ son was given one of the two priority spots for admittance into Penn’s prestigious Wharton School of Business and is now a senior at the school, according to ESPN. However, Allen resigned in March 2015 after failing to reach the 10-win mark for the third consecutive season. Not long after, the payments came to an end.
Following Allen’s departure, Esformes went through fall workouts with the team, but “realized he was going to be cut, so he left the program,” per the Inquirer. That’s when the payments to Allen stopped. Allen testified that he did not believe Esformes was “good enough” to play in the Ivy League.
Who is Jerome Allen?
Allen, an “important basketball figure” in Philadelphia, per the Inquirer, was a four-year starter at guard for the Quakers who averaged 13.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game from 1991-1995.
After his college career ended, Allen was selected in the second round of the 1995 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also spent time with the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets before heading overseas in 1997.
Allen’s playing career in Europe lasted until 2009, when he returned stateside to become an assistant at his alma mater. In 2010, he was promoted to head coach, at first on an interim basis, following the firing of Glen Miller.
The Quakers had one winning season under Allen, going 20-13 in 2012-13 and finishing second in the Ivy League. From there, however, Allen’s teams went a combined 26-61 the next three seasons, leading to his resignation.
Allen was hired by Brad Stevens as a Celtics assistant in July 2015. After Allen entered a guilty plea in October, he was given a two-week suspension by the team. He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, but his cooperation in the case is expected to provide leniency with his sentence.
Alleged involvement of an Auburn assistant coach
Of note in Allen’s testimony was a revelation involving Auburn assistant Ira Bowman.
Bowman played alongside Allen at Penn and was on his staff with the Quakers — and later the staff of Steve Donahue, Allen’s replacement — before being hired by Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl in 2018.
Allen testified that Bowman was aware of the scheme involving Esformes. On top of that, per the Inquirer, Allen said Bowman had a debit card to access a bank account Allen created to be wired funds from Esformes.
Bowman was present at Auburn practice on Tuesday. Pearl said the university was looking into it.
“Currently, we and our administration are gathering facts. Until we know more, it would be premature for me to comment on anything further,” Pearl said Tuesday per the Opelika-Auburn News.
Auburn will play the winner of Wednesday’s Missouri-Georgia game on Thursday in the second round of the SEC tournament.
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