Former USC assistant coach Tony Bland pleads guilty to bribery in college hoops corruption case

Jason Owens
Tony Bland admitted on Wednesday to accepting payment for steering USC players in business dealings. (Getty)
Tony Bland admitted on Wednesday to accepting payment for steering USC players in business dealings. (Getty)

Former USC assistant coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in a New York federal court on Wednesday for his role in the corruption scandal that has rocked college basketball.

Bland admitted to accepting $4,100 to steer players to financial and business advisers, the Associated Press reports.

“On July 29, 2017, I met with others in Las Vegas, Nevada, to discuss my participation in the scheme and received a payment of $4,100,” Bland told Judge Edgardo Ramos Wednesday.

Bland busted on audio recording

Bland had been recorded making promises to business suitors about USC players

“I definitely can get the players. … And I can definitely mold the players and put them in the lap of you guys,” Bland said on the recording.

The plea was part of a negotiation Bland had with federal prosecutors. He will be sentenced on April 2 and is expected to spend little or no time in prison, according to AP. He agreed not to appeal any prison sentence of less than six months.

Sources told Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel in December that Bland’s deal could result in his receiving only probation as punishment.

Three others facing trial

Bland is one of four former college assistants facing charges in the corruption scandal.

Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person is scheduled to face trial in February, while Former Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans are set to face trial in April.

Bland had been scheduled to face trial alongside Richardson and Evans prior to his plea agreement.

Adidas executives Jim Gatto and Merl Code and aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins were found guilty in October of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after paying a recruit to attend Louisville. They will be sentenced in March.

‘Tragic day’

Bland’s attorney Jeffrey Lichtman acknowledged to AP that college basketball has been operating on a ”very broken, antiquated system” while calling Wednesday “a tragic, tragic day” for Bland.

“If the NCAA is unwilling to police themselves … somebody’s got to do it,” he said. “This is a long and winding road that will ultimately lead to construction of new rules.”

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