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USC fires assistant coach Tony Bland, connected to FBI investigation

USC assistant basketball coach Tony Bland, who had been on administrative leave since his September arrest in connection to the FBI investigation centered on bribery within college basketball, was fired Friday, according to his attorney.

A spokesman for USC confirmed Bland is no longer employed by USC.

"We're disappointed in the process, but it's understandable," said Jeffrey Lichtman, Bland's New York-based attorney. "USC did what it felt it had to do. Tony is greatly appreciative of all the time he was there, but also the way they handled this by paying him as long as they possibly could at a tough time in his life."

Bland was one of four assistant college basketball coaches arrested Sept. 26. The other three -- Auburn's Chuck Person, Arizona's Emanuel "Book" Richardson and Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans -- have also been dismissed.

A federal indictment alleges Bland received at least $13,000 in bribes to funnel potential NBA basketball players at USC toward business management and/or financial advisory services provided by aspiring agent Christian Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood. He is also alleged to have facilitated an additional $9,000 "directly to the families and/or close confidantes of student-athletes at [USC]."

Bland pleaded not guilty to four charges in November.

USC guard De'Anthony Melton, who has not been accused of any legal or NCAA wrongdoing, suspended for the season by the school for his apparent connection to the scandal. Federal prosecutors have alleged that Dave Elliott, a Melton family friend, accepted $5,000 with the understanding that he would steer Melton toward Dawkins and Sood.

According to Melton's attorney, Vicki Podberesky, there is no evidence that an exchange took place. However, while investigating Elliott, other NCAA violations surfaced.

"It came to light through conversations with Elliot and others that Elliot took a plane ticket and possibly payment for a hotel room from Dawkins for [a basketball event in] Las Vegas over the summer," Podberesky said. "There were clearly violations that appeared. There is nothing to suggest De'Anthony knew about these violations, but they're still NCAA violations."

In September, USC hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct an internal investigation into any wrongdoing.

Bland, who played college basketball for San Diego State and Syracuse, was hired away from San Diego State as the associate head coach by Andy Enfield at USC in 2013.