In what’s been a rare bright spot for the South Carolina men’s basketball team this season, the school announced today that the NCAA probe that started three years ago is now over — and importantly, with no further punishment.
The Gamecocks, along with a pack of Division I programs that even included a few bluebloods, got caught up in what was initially an FBI investigation into bribery and other slimy recruiting tactics. South Carolina’s involvement was limited to the actions of former assistant coach Lamont Evans — who, thankfully, had already left Columbia for Oklahoma State by the time the allegations came to light. Evans was accused of accepting money to steer point guard and Final Four star P.J. Dozier to a particular sports agency, but the school argued it had no idea such negotiations were taking place, nor did Dozier appear to take any money himself.
Thankfully, the NCAA agreed. In the immediate aftermath of the allegations, South Carolina had preemptively slapped itself with probation, fines, and a reduction of recruiting visits, and it was a punishment the NCAA saw no need to adjust — which means no postseason ban, no vacated Final Four appearance, and no losses of scholarships, which were the nervous fan’s worst nightmares.
Here’s an interesting nugget from the Post and Courier’s David Cloninger, who shared some insight on embattled athletic director Ray Tanner:
Ray Tanner an instrumental part of working with the NCAA on this. His committee visited Indy to discuss that USC couldn't be held responsible.— David Cloninger (@DCPandC) February 25, 2021
Who knows what the NCAA would have done without that? OK State got a postseason ban without visiting (they are appealing). https://t.co/yUwkhd7cfs
Will this get fans off Tanner’s back? Probably not! But it’s still a nice thing to hear.
At the end of the day, this was the conclusion that should have been reached. It was clearly a rogue assistant coach and not an issue systemic to the program, and it also involved a current player’s NBA future as opposed to South Carolina finagling to land a high school recruit. The NCAA is hardly predictable or fair, though, so this outcome should nonetheless be celebrated. Whew.