Jerome Allen

Getty Images

Former Penn coach Jerome Allen pleads guilty in bribery case involving former recruit

Leave a comment

Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen has pled guilty to bribery charges in connection with him accepting a payment of $18,000 from the father of a high school recruit who was trying to get his son admitted into the school.

Allen announced the guilty plea in a statement through his attorney late this week as the current Boston Celtics assistant coach will likely face a multi-week suspension, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

“In 2014, before I joined the Celtics organization, and while I served as the Head Basketball Coach of the University of Pennsylvania, I accepted $18,000, as referenced in the Information, from the father of a prospective student for the purpose of using my position as coach to help his son get admitted to the school as a “listed” recruit. My plea agreement with the Government requires me to repay the $18,000 plus a $200,000 fine,” the statement read in-part.

“I am heartbroken that my players – current and former – will know that I broke the law. But, I do hope that some good may come out of this. I wish to model to my young players how one accepts responsibility for wrongdoing, including the consequences that come from unlawful behavior.”

The case was handled in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida as Allen was involved with Miami businessman Philip Esformes and his son, Morris. In July, Bloomberg reported that Philip Esformes was accused of health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery, as the government uncovered more than $74,000 in gifts that Esformes allegedly gave to Allen in 2013 and 2014.

Allen was identified as “Coach-2” in the indictment, as he allegedly took multiple cash payments to help Morris Esformes enroll at Penn. Philip Esformes was hoping to get Morris into Penn as a “recruited basketball player” — increasing his son’s odds to get into the prestigious Ivy League school. Morris Esformes eventually was admitted, and enrolled, at Penn, but he never suited up for the basketball team since Allen was fired before he made it to campus.

While the NCAA hasn’t been involved in this issue, their potential involvement will be something worth monitoring going forward.

Former Penn coach allegedly took bribes from potential recruit’s father

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes from a Miami businessman who wanted his son to get into the school as a “recruited basketball player” — increasing his chances to gain entry to the Ivy League school.

According to a report from Bloomberg’s Michael Smith, David Voreacos and Eben Novy-Williams, Allen was involved with Miami businessman Philip Esformes, who had a son, Morris, who was allegedly recruited by several Ivy League schools. When Philip Esformes was accused of health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery, the government uncovered more than $74,000 in gifts that Esformes gave to Allen in 2013 and 2014.

Allen is identified strictly as “Coach-2” in the indictment that alleges that he took multiple cash payments, paid trips from Philadelphia to Miami, and a private jet trip that included Allen, Esformes and his son. The benefits are alleged to be $74,558 — including three separate wired payments of $15,000, $20,000 and $18,000 to Allen from Esformes.

These alleged incidents took place in 2013 and 2014, when Allen was still head coach at Penn and Morris Esformes was a high school basketball player trying to make it to the Division I level. Esformes was eventually granted admission to Penn as he was allegedly going to be on the basketball team. But Allen was fired before Esformes enrolled at the school. So Esformes went to school at Penn, but he never played for the basketball team. Esformes is currently still a senior at Penn.

Allen has been an assistant coach under Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics since leaving Penn in 2015. He hasn’t been criminally charged for any of these alleged benefits while the NCAA also hasn’t been involved with anything yet.

But this is yet another black eye on college basketball — and this time coming from a prestigious Ivy League institution. It shows that cheating and using leverage happens at all levels of Division I college basketball. Lately, the schools have been paying to get players. This shows there are instances of wealthy people attempting to gain influence through athletics.

This case at Penn is certainly a rare one. Esformes tried to exploit a loophole that would allow his son entry into a great school under the guise that he was a potential Division I-caliber basketball player. And Morris Esformes did end up at Penn — and seems to be doing well. So, this didn’t end poorly for Morris or Allen.

Since Allen is coaching at the NBA level, this likely won’t alter his coaching career, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NCAA get involved with Penn and Allen going forward.

Head coach Jerome Allen and Penn to part ways after the season

Leave a comment

Head coach Jerome Allen will be let go by Penn when the season comes to an end, a source told NBCSports.com.

Allen, a graduate of Penn, has been the head coach since December of 2009. He was named the interim coach after Glen Miller was fired in the middle of the 2009-2010 season. He lead the Quakers to the CBI in 2012, finishing 11-3 in the Ivy, good for second in the league.

But Allen has not been able to replicate that success. He’s failed to reach double-figures in wins the last three seasons, and is just 8-18 overall and 3-9 in the Ivy with two games left in the regular season.

Allen is 64-103 overall and 37-45 overall in the Ivy in his tenure.

As a player, Allen was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year. He was a second round pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.

Jackson Donahue becomes second Penn 2015 commit this week

Leave a comment

Following a visit last week, Northfield Mount Hermon School (Massachusetts) 2015 guard Jackson Donahue committed to Penn. His coach, John Carroll announced the commitment through the program’s Twitter account on Thursday night.

Donahue, the 6-foot-1 Connecticut native, was being courted by other Ivy League schools before picking the Quakers. This past weekend at the Providence Jam Fest, I spoke to Donahue after he dropped 27 points in a win for his Middlesex Magic AAU team. He had recently returned from Penn, leaving the visit with positive vibes from the coaching staff and about the school.

Donahue is a sharpshooter, hitting 92 3-pointers in his first season at NMH. During the Jam Fest, Donahue began to drive to the basket, something coaches were looking to see more from him. Despite his lack of size, he’s a competitor, the product of being one of the younger brothers in a large basketball family. His older brother, Sam, is a rising sophomore at Boston College.

Nat Graham, who was named as an assistant coach at Penn last week, was part of the BC staff that recruited his brother. That familiarity made an instant impact on Jackson Donahue’s recruitment.

Within the last week, Penn has added two pieces to its Class of 2015, the first being Lower Merion High (Pennsylvania) forward Jule Brown, who committed on May 8. They join Hebrew Academy (Florida) point guard Morris Esformes, who pledged back in March.

Penn hangs on to beat rival Princeton in Ivy League opener (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

To say that Jerome Allen’s Penn Quakers had a rough go of it prior to the start of Ivy League play would be an understatement. The Quakers entered Saturday’s game against Princeton with a 2-10 record, with five of the defeats being decided by margins of six points or less. But there is talent on the Penn roster, with that moving the league coaches to pick the Quakers to finish second in the Ivy League’s preseason poll.

So despite their struggles, especially from a health standpoint, Saturday’s Ivy opener against rival Princeton represented a “new beginning” of sorts for the Quakers, and they were able to take advantage. Tony Hicks scored 18 points and Fran Dougherty and Darren Nelson-Henry added 17 apiece to lead Penn to the 77-74 victory at the Palestra, ending a seven-game losing streak in the process.

T.J. Bray led five Princeton players in double figures with 19 points, but their 6-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc and defensive rebounding (Penn rebounded nearly 39% of its missed shots) proved to be problematic for the team that was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason poll. With the defeat Princeton drops to 11-3 overall, but by no means should they be dismissed as a possible challenger to reigning champion Harvard.

Penn certainly has some things to clean up, most notably their 19 turnovers on the evening, but the full rotation Allen expected to have on the floor was finally available Saturday. Could their improved health make Penn the Ivy League threat they were projected to be back in October? That remains to be seen, but Saturday’s victory is certainly a step in that direction.