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 Of the two recruited students, one was admitted for the fall of 2018 and had her acceptance rescinded.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.
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.
Ivy Hoops Online reported early Tuesday morning on Jerome Allen’s sentencing in federal court for accepting bribes from a Florida businessman to place his son on the Quakers’ recruited athletes list. At the conclusion of the article, we noted that Allen’s name was no longer on the online list of Penn Athletics Hall of Fame honorees.
Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen was sentenced to four years of probation in a Miami courtroom Monday afternoon for accepting bribes from a Florida businessman to place his son on the Quakers’ recruited athletes list.
“If there is any lesson here, you can’t pay your way in and you shouldn’t be able to pay your way out,” U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said. “There is a debt owed — it’s more than just a reputational cost to you.
- Following a 11-plus week paid suspension, Auburn University reinstated former Penn assistant coach Ira Bowman to his similar position on Saturday afternoon. The 1996 Ivy League Player of the Year was suspended by Auburn just before the SEC Tournament, after former Penn coach Jerome Allen testified that Bowman was involved in a scheme resulting in bribes by Florida businessman Philip Esformes to get his son, Morris Esformes, on the basketball roster for the fall of 2015.
Sam Blum of AL.com wrote that an Auburn athletics spokesman confirmed the news but did not have the results of the school’s investigation or information regarding the reasoning for Bowman’s reinstatement. AL.com has filed an open records request to obtain this information. Bowman returned to his reported $250,000 a year job, just in time to help with one of the biggest recruiting weekends in program history.
Kevin Bonner, Penn’s senior associate athletic director, governance and administration, did not respond to an email from IHO regarding the reinstatement, the Auburn investigation or any Penn investigation of Bowman.
- Cornell’s Matt Morgan was the male recipient of the Charles H. Moore Outstanding Senior Varsity Athlete Award at the school’s annual senior athletics banquet. The two-time first team All-Ivy guard ended his career with 2,333 points, the most in program history and second best in Ivy League history, trailing only Hall of Famer Bill Bradley of Princeton (2,503).
Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s coach, on what he and his team have learned from their first two experiences in the Ivy League Tournament: “We’ve learned how hard it is (to win). We learned how hard it is to play in tournament atmospheres, tournament environments. We’ve played well, but haven’t been able to win the championship. You need to be a little bit lucky as well as playing well. We’re hopeful for both this weekend.”
Five months after former men’s coach Jerome Allen reportedly pled guilty to accepting a bribe from a Florida businessman, Philip Esformes, to place Esformes’s son Morris Esformes on the recruited athletes list, he testified late last week and provided more information than had been previously reported. Details of his testimony can be found at the Miami Herald, the Daily Pennsylvanian, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Law360.
Among the bombshells reported by Law360:
Multiple publications reported Friday that former Penn head coach Jerome Allen pleaded guilty to a bribery-related money laundering charge in Miami federal court this week.
Allen admitted to accepting $18,000 in bribes in 2014 from Morris Esformes, a wealthy Miami Beach businessman who was the father of a then-prospective student, according to multiple outlets. As part of the agreement, Allen will reportedly repay the $18,000 in addition to a $200,000 fine.
Penn fired Allen in March 2015, and he has been assistant coach for the NBA’s Boston Celtics since July 2015. Allen will be suspended from his role as assistant coach by the Celtics for about two weeks, according to the Boston Herald.
Penn Athletics announced in July that it was retaining outside counsel to investigate bribery allegations against Allen, who was the head coach at Penn for six seasons, following reports that Allen took bribes at Penn.
An expanded indictment against Esformes accused him of giving Allen more than $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami and a separate ride on a private jet in 2013 and 2014, according to Bloomberg.
Penn Athletics declined comment Saturday on Allen’s guilty plea, adding that it not have any updates on outside counsel’s investigation of Allen.