Illinois coach Brad Underwood said in a statement released Wednesday night that the NCAA bribery scandal leading to the arrest of his former assistant caught him off guard.
Lamont Evans, whom Underwood hired at Oklahoma State, surrendered to federal marshals earlier Wednesday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed a day earlier that they had uncovered a bribery scheme through a lengthy covert operation that involved four college basketball assistants and shoe companies.
“Like many in our industry, I was surprised by yesterday’s events,” Underwood said in the statement released by the Illinois athletic department. “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.”
Evans, who was among 10 arrested in the scandal, faces charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, and wire fraud. Court documents show he took at least $22,000 in bribe money to direct basketball players to financial advisers.
According to documents, he expected to receive $2,000 a month for his services.
The FBI investigation began before Evans’ hire at Oklahoma State but the operation continued through this month.
Underwood and Evans also spent five seasons together on Frank Martin’s staffs at Kansas State and South Carolina. Evans was hired by Underwood in April 2016 as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, working together for about a year before Underwood left for the Illinois job this spring.
He was retained and elevated to associate head coach by current Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton.