More than three and a half years after the FBI's sting on college basketball ensnared a member of the USC staff, the Trojans have finally learned their penalty. The USC program is receiving two years of probation and a series of recruiting restrictions in connection with former assistant Tony Bland's actions, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced Thursday. However, the Trojans avoided a postseason ban.
"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 summary announced. "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."
Bland pleaded guilty in January 2019 to a felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery Bland used his influence with student-athletes to steer to them to financial advisers after they turned pro and left USC. He admitted accepting bribery money to do so as part of the scheme.
Ultimately, Bland's legal punishment was two years probation and 100 hours of community service.
USC acknowledged in December 2019 that it had received a notice of allegations from the NCAA in connection with the case. The school first placed Bland on indefinite leave in September 2017 when the federal accusations surfaced and then fired him in January 2018.
Bland first joined the USC staff in April 2013 as head coach Andy Enfield built his first staff after arriving from Florida Gulf Coast. Before coming to USC, Bland spent two seasons on the San Diego State staff.
Enfield just finished his eighth season as USC's coach by guiding the Trojans to a 25-8 record and Sweet 16 appearance. USC is one of several programs that saw assistants caught up in the 2017 federal sting.
"Our men's basketball program is pleased the NCAA has come to a resolution on this case," Enfield said in a statement. "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."
Oklahoma State was the first program to be served with sanctions as a result of the FBI's probe last June, when the Cowboys received a one-year postseason ban due to the actions of former assistant Lamont Evans. The Cowboys ultimately were able to play in the 2021 NCAA Tournament anyway as they appealed the decision. Evans also worked at South Carolina, and the Gamecocks received a punishment in February that includes two years of probation and recruiting restrictions.
Several other programs are still awaiting their NCAA punishments in conjunction with the scandal.