Prosecutors: Fmr. USC asst. coach Evans took bribes to influence USC player

Prosecutors: Fmr. USC asst. coach Evans took bribes to influence USC player
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim speaks to the media on Tuesday morning.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim speaks to the media on Tuesday morning.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former University of South Carolina assistant Lamont Evans is one of four college basketball coaches facing federal charges in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA. Federal documents allege Evans took bribes and promised to influence at least one Gamecock basketball player to work with a specific financial advisor.

The other three coaches charged are Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, and Tony Bland of the University of Southern California.

Evans and current USC head coach Frank Martin have a long history together. Evans served under Martin at Kansas State during the 2011-12 season. He also served as a student assistant from 2008-09 and a graduate manager from 2009-11 for Martin's Wildcats.

While with the Gamecocks from 2012 - 2016, Evans was a driving force in recruiting P.J. Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell. After four seasons in Columbia, he left the Gamecocks to become an assistant at Oklahoma State following the 2015-16 season.

Federal documents outline what prosecutors classified on Tuesday as the "dark underbelly" of the college basketball world. A cooperating witness and two undercover agents helped to make the bombshell case against a total of 10 people.

Christian Dawkins, a sports agent, allegedly paid at least $22,000 in bribes to Evans in exchange for his agreement to exert his influence over certain student-athletes that he coached, first at USC and then at Oklahoma State, to retain Munish Sood, an investment banker, and a cooperating government witness for business advisory and investment management services.

Prosecutors allege the cooperating government witness contacted Evans in December 2015, while he was still employed at the University of South Carolina, and "told him that the money would be coming" from Dawkins. In a recorded phone call, Dawkins allegedly told the government witness to make payments of approximately $25,000 to Evans in installments.

On or about March 3, 2016, the government witness met with Dawkins, Sood and Evans at a restaurant in the vicinity of the University of South Carolina campus, according to documents. The meeting was secretly recorded by the government witness. The four discussed current USC players Evans was coaching, according to prosecutors.

The group discussed a specific basketball player at USC, documents say. The identity of that player has not been made public.

Evans, according to Dawkins, would not only lead to signing that USC player, but also to signing five more players down the line, prosecutors said.

Dawkins allegedly told Sood and the government witness that he had previously paid Evans $2,500 per month "for a couple of months," and that Dawkins would do the money drops in South Carolina or in Atlanta, where Evans often recruited high school players.

Dawkins said he preferred to pay Evans in South Carolina so he could see the unidentified Gamecock and his mother at games, prosecutors said.

On or about April 4, 2016, Evans was hired by Oklahoma State, a school, which Evans allegedly said on a recorded phone call, offered a better job, better players and "more, more, more business."

Later that month, Evans, Sood and the government witness met at a hotel in New York City. The witness recorded the meeting on video and audio.

Prosecutors say the witness gave Evans $500 in cash. The men asked Evans how the unidentified Gamecock basketball player felt about his move to Oklahoma State. The player, according to Evans, was "good with it," prosecutors allege. In fact, Evans explained to the men that he told the player before he even told Frank Martin, documents say.

Prosecutors allege Evans later told Sood and the government witness that he'd put the unidentified USC player and his family in front of the men "when the time comes." Evans said the player would be a "first round pick" in the NBA Draft the following year, documents say.

After Evans left South Carolina, the conversations continued over the spring and he allegedly started working to work to steer Oklahoma State players to Sood.

In June, 2017 Sood allegedly met with the unidentified South Carolina player's mother. Evans allegedly set up that meeting.

A wiretap later captured a call between Sood and Dawkins.

The men allegedly discussed their concerns about Evans and that bribing him was "risky." Sood allegedly told Dawkins that Evans "scares" him. Sood also said that another unidentified sports agent said that he had paid Evans "like twelve or thirteen grand" over the last year. "That's what I'm saying, he's like all over the place bro," Dawkins allegedly said. According to Sood, Evans had recently asked him for even more money.

"The madness of college basketball went well beyond the big dance in March," United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim said on Tuesday afternoon.

"Coaches from some of the nation's top programs accepting bribes ... circling top prospects like coyotes," he said.

The University of South Carolina released this statement on Tuesday afternoon:

The University is aware that former assistant men's basketball coach Lamont Evans has been charged by federal prosecutors and learned of the charge from a press release issued by the Department of Justice. Evans coached at USC from 2012 until April 2016. These are serious accusations that are not consistent with University of South Carolina values. Behavior like this will not be tolerated in our programs. Of course, we will cooperate with investigators and we look forward to justice being done in this case. Because this is an ongoing criminal matter, we will have no further comment.

The four coaches were expected to make court appearances later Tuesday.

They were among 10 people charged in Manhattan federal court. Others included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major international sportswear company. The details were to be discussed at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Here's the full complaint:

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