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Ex-Penn coach Jerome Allen hit with 15-year show-cause penalty for accepting bribes

The NCAA hit former Penn coach Jerome Allen with a 15-year show-cause penalty on Wednesday. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

The NCAA hit former Pennsylvania coach and current Boston Celtics assistant Jerome Allen with a 15-year show-cause penalty on Wednesday after he allegedly accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from a prospect’s father to get him on the team and into the school, according to ESPN.

The punishment for Allen, who stepped down in 2015 after his sixth season with the program, is the longest show-cause penalty ever handed down for a coach by the NCAA. A former UNC Greensboro assistant was also hit with a 15-year penalty for allegedly betting on sports.

Allen’s actions, the NCAA and the university said, “resulted in multiple tryout and recruiting contact violations in addition to accepting the supplemental pay without reporting it as athletically related income while employed at the university,” according to ESPN.

Penn was also placed on probation for two years, fined $5,000 and had its recruiting days reduced by seven. Should a school want to hire Allen after his penalty expires, it must suspend him for the first half of the season.

“Penn Athletics was proactive in this review and fully cooperated with NCAA enforcement staff,” Penn officials said in a statement, via ESPN. “While Penn Athletics and its men’s basketball program accept the penalties handed down by the NCAA, it is unfortunate that this process did not fully differentiate wrongdoing for personal gain versus wrongdoing for competitive gain in penalizing the institution in addition to the involved individual. The University of Pennsylvania was harmed by the actions of its former head coach and the men’s basketball program received no competitive advantage. We are hopeful that this case will lead to changes in how the NCAA processes similar situations moving forward.”

Allen accepted $300,000 in bribes 

Allen testified in federal court last year that he accepted nearly $300,000 in bribes from Philip Esformes.

Esformes, a Florida business man, was convicted of bribery, kickback and money-laundering and sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly stealing millions at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Allen pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to four years probation, six months house arrest and community service. 

Allen testified that Esformes would fly him to Miami to train Morris, which is an NCAA violation, and would hand him bags full of cash or send him money via wire transfers. Esformes also told him that Morris’ dream was to play basketball for him at Penn, and that Allen would be “family for life” if he got his son on the team. 

“When I extend myself to someone, and if they tell me we’re family for life, I take it seriously,’’ Allen testified. “I took it to mean he was going to make sure I was going to be taken care of as well.”

Morris wasn’t good enough

Allen, per the report, didn’t think Morris was good enough to play for his team. He still, however, put him on a list of priority recruits and helped him earn admission at Penn’s business school.

Morris was offered a spot on Penn’s junior varsity team after Allen left, however he turned it down.

“I just didn’t think he was good enough,” Allen said at the trial, via ESPN. “He was 5-foot-8, wasn’t overly athletic. He could handle the ball fairly well, and in my opinion at the time, he wasn’t good enough to help our program win.”

Allen compiled a 65-104 record over six seasons with the Quakers from 2009-15. He has been an assistant with the Celtics ever since and served a two-week suspension with them after he was convicted. Allen played at Penn from 1991-95, too, and briefly played in the NBA before playing professionally overseas.

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