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Ex-San Diego coach named in admissions scam

Hours after being identified publicly for taking part in the massive college admissions scheme during his time as the head coach at the University of San Diego, UTEP assistant men's basketball coach Lamont Smith has resigned.

"Earlier this afternoon, we were notified by the University of San Diego administration that [Smith] has been implicated in the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal," UTEP said in a statement. "We have accepted Mr. Smith's resignation, effective immediately, as assistant basketball coach at UTEP. The UTEP administration and athletic department will have no further comment on this matter."

Smith, who graduated from USD, was the Toreros' head coach for parts of three seasons, beginning in 2015. He resigned in March 2018, shortly after being arrested on domestic violence charges, which were dropped, before being hired at UTEP.

"Since the U.S. Department of Justice announced their investigation last week, the University of San Diego [has] been subject to a confidentiality order that restricted our ability to identify the former coach referred to by the government," USD said in a statement. "Earlier today, the government informed us that the order has been modified and USD can now disclose the identity of the coach involved as former men's head basketball coach [Smith]."

Smith was not among the 50 people indicted by the DOJ in connection to the bribery scheme last week, but his alleged involvement was outlined in the government's complaint.

Prosecutors allege real estate developer Robert Flaxman wired $250,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, the purported charity operated by the scheme's ringleader, Rick Singer, in order for his son to gain admission to USD as a basketball recruit.

In late 2015, during Smith's first season at USD, a cooperating witness for the government sent Flaxman's son's ACT scores and transcript to Martin Fox, a defendant in the bribery case, who forwarded them to Smith. The witness emailed Flaxman and said he "spoke to USD and they received [your son's] info. They are interested in helping," according to the complaint.

A couple weeks later, Smith was informed by a USD admissions counselor that Flaxman's son's admission had been approved, and he was formally admitted the following March. An essay provided by the witness detailing fake high school accomplishments was included in the son's formal application.

The complaint does not indicate if Smith was paid for his role in the scheme.

In October, the cooperating witness called Flaxman at the direction of law enforcement to inform him about a made-up IRS audit of the charity.

"The reason for the payments were to, essentially, 'We won't say that it went to pay for [your son] to get into USD,'" the witness said. "We'll say that the payments were made to our foundation to help kids -- underserved kids."

"OK. That's fine," Flaxman said.