Final results of the Penn men’s basketball bribery scandal

After Penn parent Philip Esformes had his 20-year prison sentence for Medicare fraud commuted by fellow Quaker parent President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Ivy Hoops Online looks back at the people and departments, directly and indirectly, involved in the bribery scandal in which Esformes got former Penn men’s basketball head coach Jerome Allen to place his son, Morris Esformes, on the recruited athletes list for the fall of 2015.

Philip Esformes:

  • Found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of receipt of kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, four counts of payment of kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, nine counts of money laundering, two counts of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and one count of obstruction of justice in April, 2019.
  • Sentenced to 20-year prison term and three-years of supervised release in September, 2019.
  • Ordered to reimburse $5 million in losses incurred by the Medicare system, pay about $39 million in a forfeiture judgment to the U.S. government as punishment for his crime, and pay an additional $617,000 for the government’s cost of his incarceration in November, 2019.
  • Prison sentenced commuted by President Trump in December, 2020, as Esformes was appealing his conviction on the “basis of prosecutorial misconduct related to violating attorney-client privilege.”  Financial penalty and supervised release upheld.

Jerome Allen:

  • Fired as Penn head men’s basketball coach in March, 2015.  Hired as an assistant coach by the Boston Celtics in July, 2015.
  • Inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in May, 2017.
  • Pled guilty to accepting bribes from Mr. Esformes in October, 2018.  Sentenced to four years of probation, six months of house arrest (in which he could continue to work and travel with the Celtics), 600 hours of community service, $202,000 fine, and an $18,000 forfeiture judgment to the U.S. government in July, 2019.
  • Removed from the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in July, 2019.
  • Given a 15-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA, the largest in history, for his role in the bribery scheme.
  • His memoir, When the Alphabet Comes: a life changed by exposure, published in October, 2020.
  • He remains on the Celtics’ coaching staff in December, 2020.

Morris Esformes:

Ira Bowman:

  • Left his position as Penn men’s basketball assistant coach for a similar position at Auburn University in July, 2018.
  • During Allen’s March, 2019 testimony, he alleged Bowman was involved in the bribery scheme.  Bowman was given an 11-week paid suspension by Auburn Athletics, missing the SEC Tournament and his team’s run to the 2019 Final Four.  The school claims to have done an investigation, but provided no information about the investigation or its results to the public.
  • He remains on the Auburn coaching staff in December, 2020.

Penn Athletics & Men’s Basketball:
Sentenced to the following penalties by the NCAA in February, 2020.

  • Two years of probation from February 26, 2020, through February 25, 2022
  • A financial penalty of $5,000 to the NCAA
  • A three-week ban on all recruiting communications for men’s basketball from May 10 through May 20, 2020 and May 31 through June 10, 2020
  • A reduction in the men’s basketball program’s recruiting person days for the 2019-20 academic year by seven
  • Public reprimand and censure
  • Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive compliance and educational program
    on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institution staff members with responsibility for NCAA recruiting and certification legislation;
  • Submit a preliminary report to the OCOI (Office of the Committee on Infractions) by April 15, 2020, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program
  • File with the OCOI annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by December 30 during each year of probation. Particular emphasis shall be placed on the institution’s compliance measures taken to ensure adherence with NCAA rules education related to recruiting, ethical conduct and head coach responsibility
  • Inform prospects in the men’s basketball program in writing that the institution is on probation for two years and detail the violations committed. If a prospect takes an official paid visit, the information regarding violations, penalties and terms of probation must be provided in advance of the visit. Otherwise, the information must be provided before the prospect signs a National Letter of Intent
  • Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the violations by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the involved sport programs and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletics department’s main webpage “landing page” and in the media guides of the involved sports programs. The institution’s statement must: (i) clearly describe the violations; (ii) include the length of the probationary period associated with the case; and
    (iii) give members of the general public a clear indication of what happened in the case to allow the public (particularly prospects and their families) to make informed, knowledgeable decisions. A statement that refers only to the probationary period with nothing more is not sufficient.

Corrective Actions by the Athletics Department can be found on pages 12 and 13 of the NCAA’s February 26, 2020 Negotiated Resolution Document.

(Note: Per June, 2020 IHO article – Penn did post a statement on Feb. 26 that included the types of violations for the men’s basketball team. However, it was unclear if the institution followed through on other parts of the penalties.

Ivy Hoops Online contacted Emily James, NCAA assistant director of communications, and Kevin Bonner, Penn senior associate athletic director, governance and administration, to find out if the university submitted the preliminary report to the OCOI (Office of the Committee on Infractions) by April 15, 2020.  Neither offered a response. James and Bonner did not respond to questions about the lack of a conspicuous link to the public infractions decision on the Penn Athletics Department main web “landing page” or the men’s basketball media page.)

Grace Calhoun:

  • Remains in the position of Penn Director of Athletics and Recreation.
  • Named chair of the NCAA Division I Council for 2019-2021, in January, 2019.
  • Reportedly in the mix to become Athletic Director at UCLA and Boston College in the summer of 2020.

Alanna Shanahan:

Penn Admissions:

  • Since the bribery story broke in the summer of 2018, the school has had the following application numbers:
    Class of 2019: Early Decision Applicants 7,110 (+ 36 from prior year), Regular Decision Applicants 37,850 (- 1,068 from prior year)
    Class of 2020: Early Decision Applicants 6,453 (- 657 from prior year), Regular Decision Applicants 35,752 (- 2,098 from prior year)
    Class of 2021: Early Decision Applicants 7,962 (+ 1,509 from prior year; record high)
  • In June, 2020, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda announces he will step down from his position on December 31, 2020 to join the college counseling team at William Penn Charter School.
  • Furda, along with co-writer Jacques Steinberg, publishes The College Conversation: A Practical Companion for Parents to Guide Their Children Along the Path to Higher Education in September, 2020.


1 thought on “Final results of the Penn men’s basketball bribery scandal”

  1. An edit to this article –

    Grace Calhoun has become the new AD at her alma mater, Brown. The new position is at a higher level in the school administration. The previous AD, Jack Hayes, had a director position, reporting to the Division of Campus Life. Calhoun’s AD job is now a cabinet-level position, reporting directly to President Christine Paxson.

    Sigh ……..


Leave a Comment