Former Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland pleads guilty in college basketball bribery case

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Former Southern California assistant basketball coach Tony Bland has pleaded guilty in the FBI's college basketball corruption case alleging his involvement in taking bribes to steer athletes to colleges.

Bland, who was charged in September 2017, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. He was scheduled to go to trial in April.

Bland was one of four college basketball assistant coaches who were charged in the case, along with Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans, Auburn's Chuck Person and Arizona's Emanuel "Book" Richardson. He was placed on administrative leave after charges were handed down in late 2017, just before the start of the season, and was fired in January 2018.

Federal prosecutors in the case allege that Bland received a $13,000 bribe in July 2017 from Christian Dawkins and financial advisor, Munish Sood, in exchange for steering USC players to their services upon turning pro. Prosecutors also allege that he facilitated payments to associates of players linked to USC, believed to be De'Anthony Melton, now in the NBA, and Taeshon Cherry, a former USC recruit who is now a freshman at Arizona State.

Bland originally faced four charges including conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud, mail fraud conspiracy and violation of the Travel Act.

Bland's guilty plea comes months removed from a verdict that may have swayed his decision. In late October, Adidas employee James Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code, and former runner, Christian Dawkins, were found guilty by a jury on felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Their sentencing date is scheduled for March 5.

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