Brad Underwood, associate head coach under Frank Martin at South Carolina during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, said he was “surprised” by the NCAA bribery scandal leading to the arrest of Lamont Evans.
Underwood, now the head coach at Illinois, hired Evans as his assistant and recruiting coordinator when he was named head coach at Oklahoma State in 2016 following the firing of Travis Ford.
“Like many in our industry, I was surprised by yesterday’s events,” Underwood said in the statement released by the Illinois athletic department on Wednesday and reported by the Chicago Tribune.
“From our first conversation in March, athletic director Josh Whitman and I have shared a mutual commitment to Illinois men’s basketball upholding the highest standards of integrity. I appreciate his ongoing encouragement and support. I stand ready to assist as needed to protect the game of basketball, and those who play it, on our campus and elsewhere.”
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When Underwood hired Evans at Oklahoma State, he said: “We’re very fortunate to have Lamont join the Cowboy family. I take tremendous comfort with Lamont in terms of who he is and what he stands for. His ability to work and interact with our players is second to none. He has established recruiting ties all over the country, and I consider him one of the top recruiters in the country. There’s no doubt he’ll benefit our program and our student-athletes for years to come.”
Underwood and Evans had spent five seasons together on Frank Martin’s staffs at Kansas State and South Carolina. Evans and Underwood worked together for about a year at Oklahoma State before Underwood left for the Illinois job this past spring.
Evans was retained and elevated to associate head coach by current Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton, a former USC player and assistant coach.
Evans, who surrendered to federal marshals Wednesday, was among 10 arrested in the scandal and faces charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, and wire fraud.
Court documents show Evans took at least $22,000 in bribe money to direct basketball players to agents or financial advisers.