NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Alabama

South Carolina's men's basketball program was formally punished by the NCAA on Thursday for its role in the college basketball bribery scandal. The Committee on Infractions handed down a ruling that included a two-year probation and other recruiting restrictions. The decision was made following a lengthy investigation, which determined that former assistant coach Lamont Evans, who as part of the decision was given a 10-year show-cause penalty, accepted approximately $3,300 and $5,800 in bribes from someone associated with an agent.

Evans was also hit with a 10-year show-cause penalty last summer for accepting bribes ranging from $18,150 to $22,000 as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, so it is unclear if that show-cause will run concurrently or if it will be added to the one he is already serving. Oklahoma State was punished with a postseason ban but is appealing that ruling.

"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 COI's decision said. "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."

Evans was one of 10 men charged in September 2017 in the federal government's probe into corruption within college hoops. He served three months prison time in 2019 after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy bribery charge.

In both the South Carolina case and the Oklahoma State case, Evans refused to cooperate with NCAA investigators, which "violated NCAA ethical conduct rules," the NCAA said. The final classification of misconduct found by the committee was Level-I aggravated for Evans and Level I-mitigated for the school.

In total, the Gamecocks program got off relatively clear in comparison with Oklahoma State, a surprise given the very similar cases. South Carolina avoided a postseason ban; got two years probation as opposed to three; agreed to pay a $5,000 fine as opposed to $10,000 plus 1% of the basketball budget; and did not forfeit any future scholarships. The major sanctions are the two-year probation and minor recruiting restrictions.