USC hires former FBI director to investigate Bland
Hours after news broke on Tuesday morning that USC men’s basketball assistant coach Tony Bland was arrested on charges that included bribery and fraud, the University’s athletic department took swift strides that culminated in the commencement of its own internal investigation, hiring former FBI director Louis Freeh to handle the case.
Bland and nine others were brought down by a sting operation conducted by the FBI.
Freeh is an expert in compliance investigations. He served as FBI Director from 1993 to 2001, and before that he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Freeh has experience in NCAA compliance. His firm, Freeh Group, was hired by Penn State in November of2011 to conduct the investigation on Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse scandal when he was assistant coach at the football program.
In July of 2012, Freeh published a 267-page report on Penn State condemning the highest-ranking university officials for covering up Sandusky’s criminal actions and thereby endangering minors. It was Freeh’s report that led to the toppling of head football coach Joe Paterno and a slew of high-ranking PSU officials.
In fact, evidence Freeh’s team uncovered was key in a lawsuit decided earlier this year that indicted former-PSU President Graham Spanier and other university administrators on charges of child endangerment.
Later on Tuesday morning, Athletic Director Lynn Swann released a statement that the university was “shocked” by the news and that his department would “fully cooperate” with the federal investigation moving forward.
USC Vice President for Athletic Compliance Mike Blanton put out a second statement announcing Bland’s immediate administrative leave. Blanton stressed USC’s “highest priority on athletic compliance” and backed that by declaring that the school had hired Freeh to conduct the investigation.
Such a thorough investigation does not come cheap. According to a Penn State trustee, Freeh’s services cost the university $8.3 million.
USC’s move to hire Freeh may indicate a no-nonsense attitude toward the Bland scandal and its impetus to get to the bottom of the case sooner rather than later at all costs.