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Four college basketball assistant coaches indicted on federal charges

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Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, USC assistant Tony Bland, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans and Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson were among those indicted on multiple federal charges by a federal grand jury on Tuesday. The four assistant coaches, along with Christian Dawkins, Merl Code and ex-NBA referee Rashan Michel — who was indicted along with Person — were among 10 men arrested in September during the FBI’s sweeping investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball.

According to Person’s indictment, obtained by ESPN in a report from Mark Schlabach, Person, “participated in a scheme whereby bribes were solicited from and paid by a financial advisor and business manager to Person … and such bribe payments were facilitated by Michel. In exchange for the bribes, Person agreed to exert, and did exert, his influence over student-athletes under his control to retain the services of the bribe-payors once the athletes eventually entered the National Basketball Association.”

Charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, Travel Act conspiracy and solicitation of bribes and gratuities by an agent of a federally funded organization, Person was arrested on Sept. 26 and then arraigned on Oct. 10. Person was released on $100,000 bond.

On the day of his arrest, Person was suspended without pay from Auburn. The school has since opted to hold out two Tiger players, Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, from competition until things are resolved as the school doesn’t want to deal with NCAA eligibility issues. In its first game without Purifoy and Wiley, Auburn lost an exhibition game at home to Division II Barry University as the Tigers could be in big trouble without to of their best players.

In the federal complaint initially released on Sept. 26, Person was alleged to have received $91,500 in bribes from Michel and others. Person then allegedly gave $18,500 to the parents of two players.

Bland, Evans and Richardson were also indicted later Tuesday according to a report from Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. Bland, a USC assistant, was indicted on four counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. As Fenno noted, Bland is facing two fewer counts than the original complaint. Evans, Richardson, Dawkins and Code were also included on the Bland indictment.

Accused of accepting a $13,000 bribe in July from Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood — who hasn’t been indicted as of now — Bland was said to be directing USC players to use their services when the players went pro.

“Bland also confirmed that, by virtue of his position as a coach for the University of Southern California’s basketball team, he exerted significant influence over his athletes in deciding which agents and advisors to retain,” the indictment said of the meeting.

“We strongly believe that the conduct charged in the complaint does not rise to a crime and that Tony Bland, a hardworking and well-regarded assistant coach, is being scapegoated for all the ills of college basketball, all due to an alleged $13,000 payment,” Lichtman said in a statement to The Times. “No multimillionaire head coach was charged, or any multibillion dollar sneaker company after years of investigation. It’s not fair and anyone who knows anything about college basketball knows this to be true.”

VIDEOS: Villanova team bus stuck on icy roads trying to leave campus

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Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.

Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.

A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.

Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.