The scope of the Jerome Allen scandal expanded last week when he testified that Ira Bowman, Allen's former assistant coach, had knowledge of the payments, but Penn Athletics declined to comment on the implications of the revelation.
Between 2013 and 2015, Allen, a former Penn men’s basketball coach and star player, accepted bribes in exchange for naming a prospective student a recruited athlete. Penn Associate Athletic Director of Administration and Strategic Communications Kevin Bonner declined to provide information on the timeline, scope, or details of the investigation, only providing a general statement.
“We were extremely disappointed to learn that Jerome Allen, former head men's basketball coach at Penn, accepted payments to recruit a potential student-athlete to Penn and concealed that conduct from the Athletic Department and University administration,” Bonner wrote on March 12.
“Until Jerome’s testimony last week, we also were unaware that former assistant men’s basketball coach Ira Bowman had any relevant knowledge of the matter. The University has been cooperating fully with the government and the NCAA so that the matter is appropriately redressed."
Bonner declined to expand on the statement to clarify what was meant by the phrases “cooperating fully” and “appropriately redressed."
Penn Athletics has not confirmed to The Daily Pennsylvanian if the Chuck Smrt investigation remains open or what its scope covered. On Oct. 8, Penn released a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer saying that the “independent review” was in its final stages, but that they could not comment until “that process is finalized.”
“Penn thoroughly reviewed everything surrounding the situation, and as soon as we're at liberty to proceed forward, after that part of the trial at least, we will,” Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun said in February.
“It really comes down to whether the school knew or should have known,” Miami-based collegiate sports lawyer Jason A. Setchen said. “If they didn’t know and couldn’t have known and [Allen] really did a serious job of trying to conceal it, then the school’s culpability obviously goes down dramatically to the point where they might not even have an NCAA violation.
“It’s [a question of] how did it happen and did the school know about it. Someone in compliance: Should they or could they have done more?”
It remains unclear when Penn Athletics will release the findings of the investigation, which began three days after the allegations against Allen broke in July.
“[The investigation] could take a year; it could take less. It just depends on how much information they’re trying to obtain and how cooperative people are being, but these things do tend to take longer than you’d expect,” Setchen said.
There is a potential statute of limitations issue if the investigation takes that long. According to the NCAA website, the typical statute of limitations for violations is four years, which for this case would be sometime in 2019. There is, however, an exception to the statute of limitations that may apply if the NCAA finds that the rules violation consisted of “a blatant disregard for certain fundamental rules (recruiting, extra benefits, academics, ethical conduct).”
On Wednesday, Bowman was suspended by his current school, Auburn, where he is currently an assistant coach. Bowman left Penn after being hired by Auburn in July, two weeks before allegations that Allen accepted bribes went public.
Bowman’s involvement came through Allen and involved both knowledge of and participation in the payments, Law360.com reported. After Allen was fired in March 2015, he created an additional account for Esformes to wire money to and provided Bowman with a debit card to access the account.
“[The testimony that Bowman was involved] opens a whole new can of worms because there’s a new coaching administration involved. Now you have to go interview them,” Setchen said.
Neither the NCAA nor Ivy League have announced any investigation into the Allen scandal or any of the other bribery admission scandals that implicated Georgetown, Yale, and Stanford among other schools. If they do, it is possible that they would recommend sanctions against Penn men’s basketball, Penn Athletics, or both.
“There are clearly NCAA violations. There’s no doubt that the violation occurred,” Setchen said. “The question now would be what is [Penn's] culpability in that and what would be the penalty for it.”
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