South Carolina became the latest men's basketball program to be accused by the NCAA of a violation as a result of the federal investigation into corruption in the sport. According to a Notice of Allegations sent to the school by NCAA Enforcement, the association is alleging a Level I violation—the most serious at its disposal—related to a bribe paid to former assistant coach Lamont Evans.
In response to a records request from Sports Illustrated, the school released the NOA, which was dated Jan. 31, 2020. The association charged the school with a single Level I violation for Evans allegedly accepting at least $5,865 in bribes in 2015-16 from agent and runner Christian Dawkins. The bribes were in exchange for Evans arranging meetings between Dawkins and former Gamecocks guard P.J. Dozier and his family, in the hopes of swaying them to retain the agency Dawkins was working for, ASM Sports, which was run by Andy Miller.
After being arrested and charged in September 2017, Evans formally admitted a year ago to accepting $22,000 in bribes while an assistant at South Carolina and at Oklahoma State, in exchange for steering players to Dawkins and others in the financial advisor realm. He was sentenced last June to three months in prison.
Oklahoma State received a Notice of Allegations in November pertaining to Evans. The school is disputing the finding of a Level I violation and has asked for a Committee on Infractions hearing.
The South Carolina NOA is more limited than some others that have gone out in the wake of the FBI probe, most notably those sent to Kansas and North Carolina State. There are no allegations of failure to monitor the program, head-coach responsibility or lack of institutional control. The Enforcement NOA does list some potential aggravating factors for the Committee on Infractions to take into account while weighing the case, including a pair of Level I or II violations by the football program within the last three years. The most recent was an October 2019 violation involving an assistant coach who violated recruiting contact rules.
The Enforcement staff included no language in its NOA alleging that Dozier accepted money from Evans or Dawkins, which would have retroactively jeopardized the current Denver Nugget’s eligibility and potentially led to a forfeiture of wins—including victories that came during the Gamecocks’ 2017 Final Four run. Lacking that type of allegation, it would appear that that season is not subject to being vacated.
“As expected, this does not involve any institutional, current coaching staff or former or current student-athlete eligibility issues,” athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement to SI. “We will continue to defend our program and institution in this process with the NCAA.”
Yahoo Sports reported in February 2018 that an ASM Sports document listed a payment of $6,115 to “PJ Dozier” on its Dec. 31, 2015 balance sheet. Dawkins, who was at the heart of the FBI’s corruption probe, also filed an ASM Sports expense report listing three different ATM withdrawals on Jan. 19, 2016, that were labeled “PJ Dozier advance,” for a total of $1,500.
South Carolina is at least the sixth school to be formally charged by the NCAA in relation to the federal investigation. NC State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, USC and TCU all have acknowledged receiving NOAs. Creighton will neither confirm nor deny receiving a notice. Other schools known to be under investigation include Auburn, Louisville, Arizona, LSU and Alabama.
The South Carolina case protocol going forward will involve a response from the school to the allegation, then a response to that from the NCAA, and then a Committee on Infractions hearing. After that, the COI will rule on the case.
Evans was one of four college assistant coaches who were arrested and charged by the feds in 2017, along with Tony Bland of USC, Chuck Person of Auburn and Emanuel “Book” Richardson of Arizona. At the time of his arrest in late September 2017, Evans was working at Oklahoma State. He was quickly fired by the school.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined comment on the NOA Thursday, citing the organization's standing policy regarding current, pending or potential investigations.