NEW YORK (AP) — A former Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach plans to plead guilty Wednesday to a charge that he took bribes from business advisers for connecting them with star college athletes expected to turn pro, a defense lawyer said.
Lamont Evans will plead guilty in New York federal court to a single conspiracy bribery charge, agreeing that he received $22,000 in bribes to steer the players at the University of South Carolina and Oklahoma State University to certain financial advisers and business managers, attorney Johnny McCray said.
The charge carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison, but a plea agreement between Evans and prosecutors recommends a sentence of no longer than two years behind bars.
Evans also agreed to forfeit $22,000 as part of the deal he signed Thursday, McCray said.
“He accepted responsibility for what happened. He will be making a vigorous appeal for the lowest sentence possible,” the lawyer said.
A spokeswoman for prosecutors declined to comment.
Evans is the third former NCAA assistant coach to plead guilty in the case. The prosecution has revealed how well-connected mentors sometimes paid family members of top-tier athletes to steer the NBA-destined youngsters to schools or managers.
In recent weeks, similar pleas have been entered by former University of Southern California assistant basketball coach Tony Bland and ex-University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson. Both are awaiting sentencing.
“These guys are scapegoats,” McCray said. “The bigger name coaches were not touched here. It’s really sad.”
He added: “I think this is overkill. They could have used the sanctions available within the NCAA, which has the ability to permanently bar a coach from coaching.”
When arrests were made in September 2017, prosecutors said Evans committed his crime in 2016 and 2017 when he accepted at least $22,000 in bribes from a New Jersey-based financial adviser and another person cooperating with the investigators and posing as a business adviser to athletes.
They said Evans then falsely touted the services of the men to young athletes and their families, boasting falsely that the man cooperating with law enforcement was “my guy” and “has helped me personally.”