College Basketball Coach Resigns from Texas University After Being Linked to Admissions Scandal
Lamont Smith was one of the dozens of people who were allegedly part of an admissions cheating scam involving elite colleges and universities
A Texas basketball coach has resigned after being linked to the national college admissions scandal that also implicated numerous other athletic coaches and Hollywood celebrities including Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Lamont Smith was the assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas at El Paso before he resigned. Previously, Smith had been the head men’s basketball coach at the University of San Diego, where he allegedly participated in the college admissions scheme. Smith left USD in March 2018.
Jim Senter, the director of athletics at UTEP, told PEOPLE in a statement: “Earlier [Wednesday] afternoon, we were notified by the University of San Diego administration that Lamont Smith has been implicated in the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. We have accepted Mr. Smith’s resignation, effective immediately, as assistant basketball coach at UTEP.”
In a statement from USD obtained by PEOPLE on Thursday, the university said that, due to a government order, they had been unable to identify Smith until now.
“Since the U.S. Department of Justice announced their investigation last week, the University of San Diego been subject to a confidentiality order that restricted our ability to identify the former coach referred to by the government,” the statement began.
“Based on our review of the information available to us to date and on what the government has told us, the only USD employees, students or applicants involved in the alleged wrongdoing are the three people identified by the government: Lamont Smith and two applicants, one is a current student and one declined admission,” the statement continued.
According to ABC10 in San Diego, the initial indictment from earlier this month alleged that real estate developer Robert Flaxman paid around $100,000 to get his son — who did not play basketball — into the school as a basketball recruit with the help of a USD coach. The outlet reported that the indictment also said that Flaxman paid a similar bribe for his daughter, but she declined to attend the university.
USD has not yet announced whether the student will be expelled, but said, “as with any students, falsifying or making misrepresentations on an application for admission can be grounds for disciplinary action under USD’s Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. Students who violate the Code can be subject to various sanctions, up to and including expulsion.”
The statement ended: “USD strongly condemns the actions revealed by the government in this matter but maintain our strong commitment to our values of integrity and ethical conduct.”
Smith was among the 50 people named earlier this month in an alleged conspiracy to defraud and undermine competitive student admissions at elite colleges and universities including Yale, Georgetown, the University of Southern California and Stanford, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Many other athletic coaches were allegedly implicated in the scandal, including Michael Center, the former head coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas at Austin, and Laura Janke, the former assistant coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California.