Josh Pastner accused in extra benefits scandal that includes Memphis, report says

By: Marius Payton

Updated:

A jilted friend of former University of Memphis head basketball coach Josh Pastner claimed he provided extra benefits to players at Memphis and Georgia Tech, according to a report from Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com.

Ron Bell, who is reportedly a longtime friend of Pastner, provided documents to CBS Sports that show he bought plane tickets, shoes, and clothing for two Georgia Tech basketball players. The school self-reported violations and suspended those players last week.

Ron Bell's role within the Tiger's program wasn't defined, but he did have access to players and he was definitely in Pastner's inner circle. FOX13 spoke with 2 men who say, Bell was not a fan, but a felon and a fanatic about everything Josh Pastner and his basketball program.

"I'm not saying Josh is perfect. No man is, but in terms of being in this industry, Josh is as clean of a coach as you can be in it," said John Martin of ESPN 92.9, who has covered the Tigers for many years.

Martin and Jason Smith are hosts of a popular sports radio show. Both have spent time within the Memphis basketball program. John for 8 years, Jason for 6. During that time, Jason got to know Ron Bell.

"He's a strange individual in the sense that back then during a toxic level in Memphis basketball history everyone and everybody wanted Josh Pastner fired. This gentleman had moved from Arizona, had known Josh for a long time and was going to support him through all of that toxicity." Smith remembered. 

In the report, Bell also claimed to provide additional benefits to players throughout the year. 

Parrish's report details a relationship between Pastner and Bell that spans decades but recently had a falling out.

When asked about any involvement with the University of Memphis, Bell told Parrish he provided gift cards and shoes to Markel Crawford. The Melrose high alum graduated from the University of Memphis and transferred to Ole Miss to finish his collegiate career.

While the rumors continue to swirl about who received what and how much. And before a possible NCAA investigation begins, these radio hosts are sticking by the coach. 

"Josh is not a crooked coach. What he did was allowed a shady individual, questionable character to get around his program and not just his program. His family. His players and his program," Smith said.

Josh Pastner was the coach at the University of Memphis from 2009 to 2016. He left Memphis for Georgia Tech in April 2016.

Read the full CBS Sports report here.


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