Southern California men's basketball escapes major punishment for violations of former assistant

Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY
·2 min read

The University of Southern California men’s basketball program avoided major penalties from the NCAA for violations stemming from a former assistant coach’s involvement in the FBI sting known as Operation Varsity Blues.

Former USC assistant Tony Bland was among those arrested in 2017 on bribery charges stemming from the government’s probe of corruption in college sports. The decision from the resulting NCAA infractions case was handed down Thursday.

The NCAA committee on infractions accepted the school’s self-imposed penalties of scholarship reductions and limitations on official recruiting visits, adding two years of probation and a fine of $5,000 plus one percent of the school’s men’s basketball budget. The program received no postseason ban, nor were any past wins vacated.

Bland, who accepted $4,100 from a business management company to influence student athletes, was given a three-year, show-cause penalty by the NCAA. He was sentenced to two years of probation and community service in 2019 after pleading guilty to the bribery charge in federal court.

Former Southern California men's basketball assistant coach Tony Bland received a three-year, show-cause penalty for committing NCAA violations.
Former Southern California men's basketball assistant coach Tony Bland received a three-year, show-cause penalty for committing NCAA violations.

“Despite the former associate head coach’s underlying violations, the committee noted that unlike other individuals in similar cases, he met his obligation when he participated in the NCAA investigation and provided information relevant to the investigation,” the NCAA release said, adding that the school’s cooperation in the investigation mitigated the level of penalties imposed.

The announcement was received as good news for the Trojans, who just completed a successful 2020-21 season that featured a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm proud of our university, athletics department and men's basketball program for our management of this matter,” said USC athletics director Mike Bohn in a statement. “The NCAA's findings, comments and acceptance of our self-imposed penalties are a reflection of our commitment to accountability, integrity and transparency."

"Our men's basketball program is pleased the NCAA has come to a resolution on this case. This was a comprehensive process, and we are looking forward to moving on,” added USC men's basketball coach Andy Enfield. “We remain committed to winning with integrity and dedicated to providing the best possible experience for all of our student-athletes.”

Other infractions cases at schools such as Arizona, Auburn and Kansas stemming from the FBI operation are still working their way through the NCAA investigation process.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USC men's basketball gets NCAA probation for rules violations