Waking up Wednesday morning, who knew that the sweep of the Penn men’s basketball team by Dartmouth and Harvard, as well as Tuesday’s blowout loss to Princeton by the women’s team, would not be the worst news of the week for the Quakers?
At high noon, the NCAA released a statement and report detailing its investigation into former Penn men’s head coach, Jerome Allen, who received bribes from Florida businessman Philip Esformes to place his son, Morris Esformes, onto the recruited athletes list for the entering class of 2015. Minutes later, Penn Athletics released its own statement on the report.
A quick note to readers of Ivy Hoops Online that Thursday marked the 18-month anniversary of the Penn Athletics announcement that it would be hiring outside legal counsel to look into Jerome Allen receiving bribes from Florida businessman Philip Esformes to place Esformes’s son, Morris Esformes, onto the recruited athlete list for the entering Fall 2015 class. The information was revealed as federal authorities were investigating the elder Esformes for healthcare fraud.
It has been 15 months since news broke about former men’s basketball head coach Jerome Allen receiving bribes from Florida businessman Philip Esformes to place Esformes’s son, Morris Esformes, onto the recruited athlete list for the entering Fall 2015 class. The information, which was revealed as federal authorities were investigating the elder Esformes for healthcare fraud, led to bribery charges against Allen. Since that time, Allen and Philip Esformes were found guilty and sentenced for their crimes, while the younger Esformes graduated from Penn’s Wharton School.
In March, Yale was caught up in the national Operation Varsity Blues admission scandal, when its former women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith was alleged to have taken bribes to place students on his recruited athlete list. Meredith plead guilty to his actions and is awaiting sentencing. Of the two recruited students, one was admitted for the fall of 2018 and had her acceptance rescinded.
Looking at the responses to these scandals by the two Ivy League institutions, one has been open and one has been far from forthcoming.
Princeton’s Bella Alarie completed her last 3×3 tournaments with USA Basketball with a silver medal effort in Edmonton this past weekend and a bronze medal showing in Montreal in early September. Overall, her team came in seventh place in the 28-team field.
The two-time Ivy Player of the Year, who also picked up a silver medal with USA Basketball at this summer’s Pan American Games, continues to improve her stock as she heads into her final year for the Tigers. Michelle Williams of the WNBA listed Alarie as one of the 12 potential first-round picks in next years’s Draft, while Howard Megdal of High Post Hoops had her as the number five pick for the Minnesota Lynx.
Harvard men’s coach Tommy Amaker told Jon Rothstein that 2018 men’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Seth Towns, has been cleared for non-contact work. Towns, a co-captain of this year’s Crimson team, missed all of last year due to a knee injury sustained in the 2018 Ivy Tournament final against Penn.
Earlier this month, the senior from Columbus, Ohio, was one of 16 players attending the NCAA Elite Student-Athlete Symposium for Men’s Basketball in Indianapolis.
Although Penn Athletics released the men’s basketball home schedule on August 14, the complete slate was announced Wednesday, three weeks later. While the schedule is light on home games, coach Steve Donahue has crafted a strong 13 game nonconference schedule that will see the Quakers facing three Top-35 teams and anywhere from four to six top-90 squads.
It was one year ago today that allegations that Jerome Allen took bribes were first reported by Bloomberg and the Miami Herald.
But the passage of time didn’t make Sports Illustrated’s deep dive last week into how Jerome Allen became guilty of bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion any easier to digest.
Most Penn basketball supporters will find it an uncomfortable read, but its revelations are simply too many to ignore.
They reconfirm what we already knew – one of Penn basketball’s most admired figures used his head coaching position for personal gain at the expense of the program.
But taken as a whole, the article’s revelations paint a far more holistic portrait than that.
Allen is and will always be more than an implicated figure on a witness stand, and his story as told by SI merits closer examination – as do the institutions and forces that shaped it. As someone who covered Allen and Penn basketball extensively for the Daily Pennsylvanian from 2012 to 2014, I thought I’d do a closer read of SI’s story, portions of which are italicized below.
Ben Baskin of Sports Illustrated published a longform article Thursday on former Penn head coach Jerome Allen and his part in a recruitment scandal that saw the Ivy great accept money from a parent to place an unqualified student-athlete onto the school’s recruited athlete list. The author wrote his article, which is available online and in the print edition, “with the aid of court transcripts and exhibits, financial records, news reports and interviews with three dozen of his friends, classmates, teachers, coaches, players, mentors and coworkers, many speaking anonymously for fear of personal and professional ramifications.”
The article provided the following new information: During his playing career, Allen faced a series of civil suits over unpaid debts—$5,000 owed to a car-leasing company, $13,000 to a bank, $6,700 to a landlord.
– While Allen was coaching Penn, the school sued him for nearly $25,000 for failing to pay off two decades of accrued interest on a loan he had taken out as a student
WHO TV in Des Moines, Iowa reported earlier this week that Dau Jok, a member of Penn basketball from 2010 to 2014, departed Monday for Iraq as a member of the United States Army Reserve’s 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. According to the station, Jok and his unit will be in Iraq for at least a year.
Jok, along with his younger brother Peter were born in Khartoum, Sudan. When Dau was six and Peter three, their father Dut, a general in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, was killed during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Their grandfather Jok Dau Kachuol, the chief of their village, would be killed in 2010, during a clash between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army soldiers and armed civilians.
Even with last week’s big news (and news, and news) around former Penn men’s head coach Jerome Allen and the probable extension for current Brown men’s head coach Mike Martin, the Ancient Eight continues its many off-season story lines.
Carla Berube has picked three staff members at Princeton, hiring Lauren Battista, Dalia Eshe and Lauren Dillon as assistant coaches. Two previously coached under her at Tufts.
Battista has previous experience as an assistant at Tufts for the 2018-2019 season, where she worked with Berube, as well as three years as a graduate assistant at Boston College. She played four years a Bentley College and was named the national Division II Player of the Year in her 2013-2014 senior year.
Eshe has been as assistant coach at La Salle from 2016-2019 and East Carolina from 2014-2016. Prior to that, she spent the 2013-2014 season as Director of Basketball Operations for Loyola, Maryland. Before entering the coaching ranks, the 2006 Florida graduate and committed vegan, was drafted by the Seattle Storm in the second round of the WNBA Draft. She was in the training camps for Seattle, Washington and Atlanta in the WNBA, but played professionally in Turkey, Russia, Romania, Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany and Ecuador between 2006 and 2013.
Dillon was an assistant under Berube last year at Tufts, where Dillon played the previous four years before graduating in 2018. Dillon was a two-year captain, NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and earned a First-Team All-League selection as a senior.
The previous Princeton staff consisted of Carrie Moore, Addie Micir and Cinnamon Lister. Moore went to North Carolina with former Tigers coach Courtney Banghart, Micir became the associate head coach for Lehigh and Lister moved to UC Irvine.