Ex-USC coach Tony Bland reportedly returns to college basketball with Washington after bribery conviction

Bellflower, CA - February 17:  Head coach Tony Bland of St. Bernard reacts against St. John Bosco in the first half of a CIF-SS boys Open Division playoff basketball game at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower on Friday, February 17, 2023. St. Bernard won 60-47 (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Tony Bland avoided prison time, but served a significant NCAA penalty for his role in a major scandal. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Tony Bland is returning to college basketball.

New Washington men's basketball head coach Danny Sprinkle is expected to hire Bland as an assistant coach, according to Field of 68's Jeff Goodman, five years after Bland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection to the fraud scandal that rocked college basketball.

Bland served a three-year show-cause penalty, effectively a ban from the sport, and has reportedly spent the time since as the head coach at St. Bernard High School in Los Angeles, as well serving as an AAU coach and working with troubled youth in the area.

Before all that, Bland was an assistant coach at USC and one of 10 individuals initially arrested in 2017 and charged in a scandal that nearly engulfed college basketball, with a litany of bribery allegations aimed mostly at coaches and employees with ties to Adidas and its schools. In Bland's case, he was accused of accepting $13,000 from would-be sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial planner Munish Sood in exchange for encouraging NBA-bound USC players to their company.

Bland was also accused of sending payments of $4,000 and $5,000 to the families of two different USC players. He managed to avoid prison time by pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in 2019, instead receiving two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Between a significant number of character testimonials and a lack of a prior criminal record despite a rough childhood in Los Angeles, Bland won over Judge Edgardo Ramos:

Ramos was sure to note that he sees "young men of color every day in this courtroom, unable to overcome those backgrounds. ... I am convinced to a moral certainty that I will not see Mr. Bland again, at least not in this courtroom."

Federal charges aside, Bland spent four years coaching at USC and three years at San Diego State before that. He played at both Syracuse and San Diego State as a player.