Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech accused of underplaying violations by jilted pal


Ron Bell, an Arizona resident and longtime pal of Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, has advised CBS Sports he is the one that offered advantages in violation of NCAA guidelines to Georgia Tech basketball gamers Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson.

Georgia Tech introduced final Thursday that it self-reported the violations to the NCAA and suspended each gamers indefinitely, but it surely didn’t, on the time, determine Bell. It as an alternative solely acknowledged that the identical individual was answerable for all violations, and that he was neither a booster nor a Georgia Tech worker.

According to the college, Jackson accepted advantages totaling lower than $525 whereas Okogie accepted advantages totaling lower than $750. Bell turned over paperwork to CBS Sports that present he spent $233.40 on a airplane ticket for Okogie, despatched him three pairs of sneakers totaling round $444 and ordered him two shirts totaling $56. Bell additionally offered CBS Sports with paperwork that present he spent $233.40 on a airplane ticket for Jackson, despatched him two pairs of sneakers totaling round $271 and ordered him Knicks attire price $80. Those paperwork add as much as across the estimates Georgia Tech self-reported, and any incongruities may very well be chalked as much as estimation variations, that are allowable by NCAA guidelines.

But Bell insists they don’t inform the total story.

He stated he additionally spent “about $500” on groceries for the gamers once they stayed at his home from May 9-13, and he offered picture proof of Okogie and Jackson in his swimming pool. The NCAA also needs to be contemplating, he stated, a 220-mile roundtrip experience from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to Bell’s home in Tucson, which Bell stated he offered for each gamers, as an impermissible profit. And after including up different varied bills, together with a $120 meal Bell stated he had with Okogie and Jackson at a Houston’s in Atlanta, the 51 year-old who works in the actual property enterprise concluded he is undoubtedly given Okogie greater than $750 and Jackson greater than $525 in impermissible advantages.

“It’s not even close,” Bell stated

Georgia Tech officers stated final week that Pastner, the reigning ACC Coach of the Year, had no information of the violations till Oct. 2, and that he instantly self-reported them to Georgia Tech’s compliance workplace. Asked if that is true, Bell answered “absolutely not.” He stated Pastner “100 percent” knew Okogie and Jackson have been staying 4 nights at his residence whereas it was taking place. 


GT’s Josh Okogie, left, and Tadric Jackson in a pool at Ron Bell’s home in Arizona.
Courtesy of Ron Bell

Bell, a recovering addict who spent practically 4 years in jail from 2009 to 2013, stated the one important factor about Oct. 2 is that it is the final day he spoke to Pastner. Bell stated he believes Pastner self-reported the violations when he did as a result of, after a falling out between the 2, he threatened to show Pastner throughout a telephone dialog that day.

“And principally what [Pastner] advised me is, ‘Nobody goes to imagine you since you have been in jail, and I’ve by no means been to jail, and I’ve an incredible repute, and I do not cheat,”” Bell stated. “And I stated, ‘You do not cheat?’ Yes, you do. Yes, you do.””

An examination of Bell’s telephone information by CBS Sports confirmed that Bell and Pastner spoke 10 totally different instances for a complete of 105 minutes on Oct. 2. The first name that day originated at 11:07 a.m. ET. The 10th and last name that day originated at 10:15 p.m. ET. Bell’s telephone information don’t present any proof of calls between the 2 males since that day.

Pastner, who’s in China making ready for Friday’s season-opener towards UCLA, was provided the chance to deal with every of Bell’s allegations. He launched the next badertion, by means of his athletic division, to CBS Sports early Tuesday: “As I have throughout my career, I remain committed to following NCAA rules. Any allegations that NCAA rules weren’t followed will be investigated thoroughly by our compliance department while I focus on coaching my team.”

The relationship between Bell and Pastner goes again 20 years — to when Pastner was a basketball participant on the University of Arizona. Bell stated he’d been near the Wildcats’ program since he was a pupil on the faculty within the 1980s as a result of, he stated, he is the nephew of Ernie Lorch, a longtime and controversial New York AAU determine who coached future NBA gamers similar to Metta World Peace, Elton Brand, Chris Mullin and Kenny Anderson. Bell stated his uncle was shut with then-Arizona coach Lute Olson, which led to him connecting with Olson on campus and growing a friendship.

“So [several years after I left Arizona] I get a call from the [Arizona] basketball office, and they said, ‘You have to come down,’ because I’m Jewish, they said, ‘You have to come down and meet this Jewish kid,” Bell recalled. “They said, ‘I think you’d get a kick out of him.’ … So I went down, and I went to practice, and I met Josh.”

Pastner graduated from Arizona in 2000 and was a member of Olson’s employees from 2002 to 2008. Bell stated Pastner used to depart him tickets for video games “all the time” whereas he was an Arizona badistant. During a lot of this time, Bell admits, he was battling a prescription drug drawback that he stated lasted practically a decade. And he is lengthy credited Pastner as the one that inspired him to get clear, as detailed in a February 2016 story in The Commercial Appeal during which Bell proclaimed Pastner “saved my life.” 


Pastner, left, and Bell, heart, at Memphis.
Courtesy of Ron Bell

Bell stated he is been clear since Aug. 29, 2006. However, he violated his probation from a earlier arrest in 2008, which information present triggered a jail sentence of 50 months. Bell was launched in the summertime of 2013, at which level he stated he rekindled his friendship with Pastner. He traveled to Las Vegas to observe Memphis, the workforce Pastner was teaching on the time, play for the primary time, towards Baylor and Indiana State, in November 2014. He stated he sat on the video games with Pastner’s spouse, Kerri.

Memphis completed a disappointing 18-14 that season, missed the NCAA Tournament for the primary time in 4 years, and subsequently endured an offseason during which prized recruits Austin Nichols and Nick King each transferred. Then got here the 2015-16 season that featured early losses at residence to UT-Arlington and Ole Miss. And when Memphis dropped to Three-Three within the American Athletic Conference after a loss to East Carolina on Jan. 24, 2016, Geoff Calkins, a columnist at The Commercial Appeal, revealed a bit declaring Pastner’s seven-year run at Memphis “over.”

“The day that article came out,” Bell stated, “Kerri known as me and stated, ‘You’ve acquired to return out right here. He’s not doing effectively. Everyone has turned towards him. He actually wants you right here.””

Bell stated he and his girlfriend, Jennifer Pendley, have been in Memphis three days later, and so they spent a lot of the remainder of the season across the program. Bell was at practices and video games (even within the handshake line after video games), at Pastner’s radio and TV exhibits, at workforce meals and postgame press conferences. He created a Twitter account to pbadionately defend Pastner. He attacked any and all critics.

“Ron Bell’s a pal,” Pastner said during his press conference after a 63-59 win over Cincinnati on Feb. 6, 2016. “He drove 1,500 miles from Tucson to return to this [week’s games]. He’s an enormous fan, all the best way from Tucson.”

Pastner made a video after one among his weekly tv exhibits during which he described Bell and Pendley as “a part of our household and a part of our workforce.” 

Later that very same evening, after that video was made, Bell stated he sat in Pastner’s automobile speaking “for more than an hour” whereas Pendley waited in a separate automobile. He stated Pastner gave him an envelope with $500 in it. When he returned to the automobile, he stated he confirmed the cash to Pendley.

“I requested Ron, ‘Is that for our resort?”” Pendley advised CBS Sports. “And Ron advised me, ‘No, that is for the gamers.””

Asked if he ever offered impermissible advantages to a Memphis participant, Bell stated he despatched “about $300” in present playing cards to Markel Crawford “for groceries.” Bell offered a doc to CBS Sports that exhibits he additionally despatched a pair of Nikes to Crawford final February, throughout Tubby Smith’s first season at Memphis, that value $117.99.

“Markel has had a rough life,” Bell stated.

An try to succeed in Crawford for remark was not instantly profitable.

Bell stated the one different time Pastner gave him cash in individual occurred after he turned the Georgia Tech coach. He stated Pastner would additionally typically ship envelopes with “$200 or $300” in them to his residence. Pendley stated she noticed these envelopes and even as soon as opened one herself. When requested if there’s any proof — an incriminating textual content message, electronic mail, something — that Pastner gave him cash for any purpose, correct or improper, Bell couldn’t present it and easily stated, “Josh isn’t that stupid” to ship a textual content like that. 

Regardless, Bell insisted every part occurred as he defined, and he stated he began offering impermissible advantages to Okogie and Jackson to meet a imprecise request from Pastner. He stated Pastner was involved about gamers transferring due to the transfers he endured late in his tenure at Memphis. “So [Pastner] advised me, ‘I want you to ensure my gamers are completely satisfied and that we’re profitable video games. Whatever it takes,”” Bell stated. “And I stated, ‘Whatever it takes?’ And he stated, ‘Whatever it takes.””

Bell spent plenty of time across the Georgia Tech workforce final season, which doubled as Pastner’s first yr on the ACC faculty. He was at practices, video games, workforce meals and on workforce busses, which is how he stated he developed relationships with Okogie and Jackson, a duo that mixed to common 28.2 factors and seven.6 rebounds for a workforce that superior to the NIT title sport. Bell offered CBS Sports with textual content messages he exchanged with Pastner, Okogie, Jackson and even affiliate athletic director Marvin Lewis in an try to point out simply how shut he was with this system. He did so after he defined he was offended by Georgia Tech’s public response final week that prompt the impermissible advantages have been offered by any person who will not be linked to this system.

“I am not linked?” Bell said. “I had credentials to be wherever I wished to be.”


Jennifer Pendley and Bell at a Georgia Tech soccer sport.
Courtesy of Ron Bell

Bell stated that after final season, when Crawford introduced he was transferring from Memphis, he tried to recruit the gifted guard to Georgia Tech to reunite with Pastner. Bell offered a doc to CBS Sports that exhibits he purchased two airplane tickets — one for Crawford and one for Crawford’s brother — to journey from Memphis to Tucson on April 27. The tickets have been $419.10 every. But Crawford dedicated to Ole Miss on April 20. So Bell stated he canceled the tickets, and Crawford by no means really made the journey.

So the apparent query right here is, why?

Why would Bell activate Pastner — the person he as soon as described as a brother, the person he many instances stated saved his life — in such a vindictive and public approach? Asked that query a number of instances, Bell defined it in quite a lot of methods. He stated he feels Pastner has did not compensate him correctly for the “work” he is finished. He stated Pastner did not name him on his birthday this yr, which is one thing he interpreted as disrespectful. He stated he has for some time had a foul relationship with Georgia Tech’s program and operations supervisor, Ellie Cantkier, and that when the 2 had a disagreement not too long ago he felt that Pastner “took her side.” And Bell additionally stated the FBI scandal that has engulfed a number of colleges, together with his alma mater (Arizona), made him understand he was complicit in one thing with which he’s not comfy.

“I simply began to appreciate [Pastner] will not be a pal,” Bell said. “I advised him ‘I maintain your profession in my fingers. You’re going to point out me respect.’ … I stated, ‘I have been defending you for 2 years. And for those who do not watch your self, if I begin self-reporting, you are going to be teaching highschool basketball.’ And he stated, ‘Are you threatening me?’ And I keep in mind it prefer it was yesterday. I stated, ‘Josh, I do not make threats. Everything I say I’ll do, I do it.””

Kenny Anderson, a Georgia Tech alum and the No. 2 general decide of the 1991 NBA Draft, has change into buddies with Bell over the previous yr after realizing he performed AAU basketball for Bell’s uncle within the 1980s. He advised CBS Sports on Monday he has no information of what Bell or Pastner did or didn’t do. But when requested if he believed Bell would make up tales to falsely incriminate Pastner, he stated, “I do not suppose so. And you possibly can quote me on that. I do not suppose so.”

A Georgia Tech spokesperson launched the next badertion to CBS Sports early Tuesday: “Georgia Tech extremely prioritizes NCAA compliance and can examine any allegations concerning NCAA guidelines violations completely.” 

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