Most college basketball recruiting scandals involve a school violating NCAA rules in order to secure an elite prospect.
Here’s a story of corruption in the Ivy League that’s almost exactly the opposite.
Former Penn coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes from a Miami businessman who wanted to help his son gain admission to the prestigious university, Bloomberg News reported Friday. According to the Bloomberg report, Phillip Esformes allegedly gave Allen more than $74,000 in cash and rides on a private jet in 2013 and 2014 in return for identifying his son as a recruited basketball player, thereby boosting his chances of entry to Penn.
Those details were included in an indictment filed late Thursday against Esformes, who has been charged with healthcare fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery and is currently awaiting trial. Neither Allen nor Penn were identified by name in the indictment according to the Bloomberg report, but the filing describes a Philadelphia school and a head coach whose tenure matches Allen’s.
Morris Esformes, Philip’s son, is a former high school basketball player at Hebrew Academy Miami who committed to Penn in February 2014. Attempts by Yahoo Sports to reach Morris on Friday were not immediately successful, but in a 2015 interview with College Hoops Daily, the 5-foot-10 point guard explained how he chose to play for the Quakers.
“I got a lot of looks from Cornell and Columbia but I chose Penn rather early for a couple of reasons,” Morris told the site. “I want to go into business and the Wharton Business School is great. I also had a great relationship with Coach Jerome Allen: I saw how much he loved the school and just fell in love with it over a couple of visits.”
Penn’s student directory lists Morris Esformes as a finance major at the Wharton Business School. He does not appear to have ever played for the Penn basketball team.
Penn fired Allen in 2015 after three straight seasons with 19 or more losses. A spokesperson for the Boston Celtics did not immediately return an email seeking comment from Allen.
Allen is one of the most decorated players in Penn basketball history, a former two-time Ivy League player of the year who helped the Quakers advance to the NCAA tournament in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The Philadelphia native was selected 49th overall in the 1995 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves and spent parts of the next two years in the NBA before heading overseas to play in Europe.
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