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Celtics assistant Jerome Allen hit with 15-year NCAA show-cause penalty for taking bribes

Jerome Allen coached at Penn until 2015, when he was fired. He joined the Celtics staff shortly after.
Jerome Allen coached at Penn until 2015, when he was fired. He joined the Celtics staff shortly after.AP/Associated Press

Jerome Allen, an assistant with the Boston Celtics and the former head coach at the University of Pennsylvania, was hit with a 15-year show-cause penalty for accepting bribes to get a Florida man’s son into the Ivy League institution in Philadelphia.

The show-cause penalty is tied for the longest ever levied by the NCAA. It means Allen’s ability to work in college sports is limited.

In a criminal trial in Florida last year, Allen said he accepted around $300,000 in bribes from Philip Esformes. According to ESPN, Esformes was on trial for running “the largest health-care-fraud scheme in U.S. history.”

During the trial, Allen testified that he offered training services to Esformes’s son and received gifts like hotel stays and basketball tickets from the elder Esformes.


Despite believing that Morris Esformes wasn’t talented enough to play basketball at Penn, Allen listed him as a “priority recruit” in the fall of 2014, and helped him gain admission into the Wharton School of Business.

Allen was fired by Penn in 2015, and joined the Celtics staff as an assistant shortly after. He wasn’t approached by the FBI about Esformes until almost two years later, according to ESPN.

Phillip Esformes was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $40 million to the government after being convicted of bribery and money-laundering charges.

In October 2018, Allen pleaded guilty to money laundering and was ordered to pay a $202,000 fine while receiving four years probation and six months house arrest, ESPN reports.

After being convicted, he was suspended by the Celtics for two weeks.

As part of Allen’s NCAA penalty, Penn will also be put on probation and receive a $5,000 fine, among other recruiting limitations.

The NCAA said that Allen did not cooperate with its investigation.


“While Penn Athletics and its men’s basketball program accept the penalties handed down by the NCAA, it is unfortunate that this process did not fully differentiate wrongdoing for personal gain versus wrongdoing for competitive gain in penalizing the institution in addition to the involved individual,” Penn said in a statement. “The University of Pennsylvania was harmed by the actions of its former head coach and the men’s basketball program received no competitive advantage. We are hopeful that this case will lead to changes in how the NCAA processes similar situations moving forward.”

Allen played for the Quakers between 1992–95 and coached the team from 2009–15.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.