Ex-USC Assistant Tony Bland Sentenced in College Basketball Corruption Trial

Emily Caron
Sports Illustrated

Former USC assistant Tony Bland has been sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours community service for his involvement in the college basketball corruption scandal. The first of four former coaches charged with crimes in the FBI investigation, Bland will not serve jail time.

The sentencing comes after Bland pleaded guilty in January to a felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery as part of a deal with prosecutors, admitting that he accepted $4,100 in cash–the least of the implicated coaches–to direct Trojans' players to use Christian Dawkins' sports management company after college. Dawkins was sentenced to six months in prison by a federal judge in March.

Prosecutors wanted Bland to serve six to 12 months in prison but his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, asked for probation for his role in the scandal. Prosecutors argued that Bland disregarded his students' own well-being by accepting the bribes.

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Michael Blanton, USC’s vice president for professionalism and ethics, sent a victim impact statement to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos last month in advance of Bland’s sentencing Wednesday.

“I respectfully ask that the Court simply recognize this is not a victimless crime,” Blanton wrote. “USC, its student-athletes, and college athletics as a whole have suffered greatly because of what Mr. Bland and his co-conspirators did.”

Bland, fired by USC in January 2018, is the first assistant coaches arrested by the FBI in the investigation to be sentenced. Former Arizona assistant Book Richardson will be sentenced Thursday, former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans on Friday and former Auburn assistant Chuck Person later this year.

Former Trojans women’s soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin agreed Monday to plead guilty in another scandal impacting USC: the nationwide college admissions bribery and money laundering scheme"Operation Varsity Blues. Former USC women’s soccer assistant Laura Janke already pleaded guilty in May to allegations that she created fake athletic profiles for the children of wealthy parents in the scheme. The Trojans former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic were also implicated but have pleaded not guilty.

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