When FBI officials produced charges that connected Georgia Tech (among other programs) with illegal benefits for players on Nov. 2, the school insisted head coach Josh Pastner had no knowledge of the violations until October 2, when he directly reported potential compliance violations to Georgia Tech’s internal office. The reasons to self report were obvious.
The reasons not to report? Only if the Yellow Jackets and Pastner were convinced they were going to get away with it.
Now, one of Pastner’s longtime friends has stepped forward to acknowledge his own responsibility of funneling funds to players at Georgia Tech as a way to keep them committed to the program.
As reported by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, Ron Bell, a Tucson native who became close to Pastner while the latter was an assistant at Arizona, stepped forward to claim responsibility for the self-reported impermissible benefits delivered to Georgia Tech basketball players Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson.
In fact, Bell clearly comes forward to point a finger directly at Pastner and a vague statement he allegedly delivered to the non-booster supporter of Georgia Tech’s program, as outlined in Parrish’s reporting:
Bell insisted everything happened as he explained, and he said he started providing impermissible benefits to Okogie and Jackson to fulfill a vague request from Pastner. He said Pastner was concerned about players transferring because of the transfers he endured late in his tenure at Memphis. “So [Pastner] told me, ‘I need you to make sure my players are happy and that we’re winning games. Whatever it takes,'” Bell said. “And I said, ‘Whatever it takes?’ And he said, ‘Whatever it takes.'”
Naturally, the phrase, “Whatever it takes” is not in and of itself an admission of guilt in contravening NCAA regulations. It does appear fishy, however, when connected with Pastner mailing bundles of cash to Bell in Arizona, where Pastner’s former Wildcats friend also allegedly hosted both Okogie and Jackson during the summer. Critically, Bell insists that Pastner knew that both players were at his house long before the Oct. 2 date the NCAA has identified.
All of those allegations would conceivably directly tie Pastner to the supposed NCAA violations which have led to Okogie and Jackson’s suspension from the team. Whether Bell’s new evidence is enough to bring Pastner down with his players remains to be seen, but at the very least it’s a direct tie between the head of a prestigious program and the pay-to-play scandal which has rocked the entire sport.