Unlike Oklahoma State, South Carolina avoids major NCAA penalties in FBI case

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

South Carolina, one of the schools implicated in the federal investigation into college basketball, has received its NCAA punishment.

Former South Carolina assistant coach Lamont Evans, who served a three-month prison sentence, was hit with a 10-year show-cause penalty for accepting “between approximately $3,300 and $5,800 in bribes” from a representative of a sports agent to arrange meetings with a South Carolina player.

South Carolina, though, was able to avoid major sanctions. South Carolina received two years of probation from the NCAA, which accepted an array of previously self-imposed penalties from the university. Those measures included a $5,000 fine, a reduction of recruiting visits and recruiting activities. South Carolina avoided a postseason ban and scholarship reductions.

“In exchange for the bribe payments, the coach agreed to arrange meetings with a South Carolina student-athlete and his family and influence them to retain the agent’s services,” the NCAA said in its infractions decision. “Though the assistant coach did not actually arrange any meetings between the agent’s associate and student-athletes during his time at South Carolina, the committee noted that his conduct violated NCAA rules and does serious harm to the integrity of college sports.”

South Carolina officials have maintained that they were unaware of Evans’ activities during his time on the USC staff. Still, the NCAA issued notice of a Level I violation to the school in January 2020. South Carolina cooperated with the NCAA’s investigation, leading to Thursday’s decision.

“During the NCAA investigation process, members of our athletics staff, SEC staff and the NCAA enforcement staff met in Indianapolis to review the facts of the case. It was a cooperative meeting and I felt it was important in how we got to this conclusion,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said. "I am proud of how our department handled this situation. Once we became aware of this situation, we were proactive in determining what happened and worked in cooperation with the Department of Justice and the NCAA. The NCAA's acceptance of our self-imposed sanctions validates our commitment and the work done by our compliance staff, administration and coaches."

FILE - In this June 7, 2019, file photo, former Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans leaves Federal Court in New York. An NCAA infractions committee panel announced Friday, June 5 2020,  that former Oklahoma State assistant men’s basketball coach Lamont Evans violated ethical-conduct rules by accepting up to $22,000 in bribes from financial advisers. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen, File)
In this June 7, 2019, file photo, former Oklahoma State and South Carolina assistant coach Lamont Evans leaves Federal Court in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen, File)

Oklahoma State received more significant NCAA sanctions

The violations committed by Evans came to light when, in September 2017, the FBI arrested several college basketball coaches in connection to a larger case about “corruption” in college basketball. By then, Evans, one of the coaches arrested, had moved on to Oklahoma State.

Evans worked at South Carolina for four seasons before accepting a job at Oklahoma State after the 2015-16 season. In the federal case, Evans pleaded guilty for accepting between $18,150 and $22,000 to steer players from both South Carolina and Oklahoma State to particular agents and financial advisers.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions hit Oklahoma State with three years of probation and a one-year postseason ban back in June. The Cowboys were also forced to reduce their men’s basketball scholarships by three and given other recruiting restrictions by the NCAA.

Evans was given the 10-year show-cause penalty as part of that decision. During that 10-year span, NCAA member schools who employ Evans “must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.”

While South Carolina’s infractions decision was reached via a cooperative summary disposition, Oklahoma State is appealing its NCAA decision. Other universities swept up in the FBI case, including Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Arizona and NC State, will resolve their cases via the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

The IARP was created in 2019 in response to the Commission on College Basketball, which was assembled following the news of the FBI case surfacing. The IARP is made up of “independent investigators, advocates and adjudicators who are responsible for reviewing select infractions cases in Division I.”

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