NewsLocal News


Former University of San Diego basketball coach Lamont Smith named in college admissions scandal

USD Basketball coach resigns amid controversy
Posted at 1:35 PM, Mar 20, 2019

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - University of San Diego officials Wednesday named former men’s head basketball coach Lamont Smith as the college employee involved in the campus admissions bribery scandal known as “Operation Varsity Blues.”

The initial indictment, released earlier in March, alleged real estate developer Robert Flaxman paid about $100,000 to get his son in the “side door” with the help of a USD coach.

Federal documents claim an FBI witness and Smith worked to accept Flaxman’s son, an Industrial Systems Engineer Major, as an athletic recruit, although he did not play basketball.

RELATED: Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin charged in alleged college admissions scheme

Flaxman also paid similar bribes for his daughter to gain admission to USD but she declined to attend, the USD Vista reported.

Smith, who was an assistant basketball coach at University of Texas at El Paso, resigned Wednesday, according to the school.

"Earlier this afternoon, we were notified by the University of San Diego administration that Lamont Smith has been implicated in the nationwide college admission bribery scandal. 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," the university said in a statement.

Smith played for the Toreros in the late 90s and graduated from USD in 1998 with a degree in communications. He was hired to coach the men's basketball team in 2015.

In 2018, San Francisco Police arrested Smith on suspicion of domestic violence at the team's hotel. The woman told police that she and Smith, who is married with two children, were involved. USD put Smith on administrative leave following his arrest. He resigned from his position one month later after the charges were dropped.

RELATED: University of San Diego basketball coach Lamont Smith arrested on domestic violence charges

Smith is among the fifty people are charged in the admissions investigation, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Prosecutors said wealthy parents bribed college coaches and other insiders to gain access for their children to attend elite universities. The bribes totaled an estimated $25 million, prosecutors said.

The University of San Diego said it had been subject to a confidentiality order by the U.S. Department of Justice which restricted the release of Smith’s name until Wednesday, when the order was modified.

“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,” USD Assistant Vice President of Media Communications Pamela Gray Payton said in a statement.

Payton said any student who falsified or made misrepresentations on an application for admission could be grounds for disciplinary action, including expulsion.

There was no immediate word on whether Flaxman’s son was facing disciplinary action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.