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USC basketball minimally punished by COI in Tony Bland case

An NCAA Committee on Infractions released its findings and penalties regarding USC in the case of former associate head coach Tony Bland, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

The decision was announced by the NCAA on Thursday morning:

“A former Southern California men’s basketball associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he accepted a $4,100 bribe from a business management company to influence student-athletes, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions,” an NCAA release said.

USC will only be lightly affected by the penalties moving forward, as the Trojans’ self-imposed penalties during the 2018-2019 academic year were accepted by the COI. Bland was hit the hardest, saddled with a three-year show-cause order.

The COI did note the cooperation displayed by both Bland and USC in the investigation.

“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,” said the NCAA release. “The committee also noted that the school displayed exemplary cooperation and self-imposed significant and meaningful penalties in line with the NCAA membership’s penalty guidelines.”

The penalties handed out were:

Two years of probation.

A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.

A reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by a total of two during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).

A reduction of men’s basketball official visits to 20 during the 2018-19/2019-20 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).

A reduction in the number of men’s basketball recruiting person days by 20 during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).

A three-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

Ultimately, this is good news for USC, which can now move forward from the cloud of another NCAA investigation.

Both USC athletic director Mike Bohn and head men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield offered statements following the announcement.

“I’m proud of our university, athletics department and men’s basketball program for our management of this matter,” Bohn said in a statement released by the school. “Since my arrival at the end of 2019, I have been focused on continuing and enhancing our already-robust compliance program. The NCAA’s findings, comments and acceptance of our self-imposed penalties are a reflection of our commitment to accountability, integrity and transparency. I’m grateful to President Carol L. Folt for her guidance, and I commend our compliance staff and legal team for their outstanding efforts navigating us through this challenge. We are thrilled this matter is now behind us, and our focus remains on being the most student-athlete centered program in the country.”

“Our men’s basketball program is pleased the NCAA has come to a resolution on this case,” Enfield said. “This was a comprehensive process, and we are looking forward to moving on. We are grateful for all the support provided by our university leadership, especially President Carol L. Folt and Athletic Director Mike Bohn, as well as our compliance and legal teams. We remain committed to winning with integrity and dedicated to providing the best possible experience for all of our student-athletes.”

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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