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Tuesday January 25th, 2022 5:14PM

Ex-coach testifies he was offered payoffs by eight universities

By The Associated Press
<p>A former high school coach told a federal jury that the University of Memphis offered him money and inducements to send his top player there, bringing the total to eight colleges alleged to have made offers.</p><p>Lynn Lang, the former head coach at Trezevant High School, said he received offers of money, a job and free law school for his wife before accepting a $150,000 payoff to steer defensive lineman Albert Means to the Crimson Tide. Lang was testifying Wednesday for the second day at the trial of Logan Young, a Memphis millionaire charged with bribery and money laundering.</p><p>Lang is awaiting sentencing on a guilty plea to racketeering conspiracy. He said he took the money to convince Means to sign with Alabama in 2000.</p><p>In prior testimony in U.S. District Court, Lang said coaches at two other Southeastern Conference schools, Kentucky and Georgia, gave him money. He also testified that Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan State and Arkansas offered money for Means but never paid.</p><p>Under cross examination by defense lawyer James Neal on Wednesday, Lang added Memphis to the list of schools that offered him a deal, testifying that then-coach Rip Scherer said he would arrange for Lang's wife to attend law school for free at the university.</p><p>Lang also told jurors that former Arkansas assistant coach Fitz Hill offered him either an assistant coaching job worth more than $80,000 a year or $150,000 in cash if he delivered Means and another player. Hill later became the head coach at San Jose State before resigning this past season.</p><p>Means, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, previously testified that he let Lang choose his college.</p><p>Prosecutors introduced telephone records from June 2000 to February 2001 showing 59 calls between phones belonging to Lang and Young. Forty-nine of those calls originated with Lang's phone.</p><p>Cathy Williams, an FBI intelligence research specialist, said the first call from Young to Lang was on Jan. 10, 2001, the day the story of how Young allegedly paid Lang to send Means to Alabama was published.</p><p>Duke Clement, a Memphis real estate developer, testified he heard Young brag in 1998 and again in 2000 that he paid another high school coach $25,500 to send two other players to Alabama.</p><p>Clement said he was unsure how truthful those boasts were because Young was drinking heavily at the time.</p><p>Lang said he began shopping Means around to various colleges in 1999 when he realized how many schools wanted him.</p><p>Lang testified that former Kentucky recruiting coordinator Claude Bassett gave $7,000 for work at a camp and a Means visit to campus and that former Georgia head coach Jim Donnan gave $700 cash for work at a camp. He testified that Bill Harper, a Georgia booster from Memphis, gave him a $100 bill.</p><p>But he said when he was referred to Young by former Crimson Tide assistant coach Ivy Williams, he started the bidding for Means at $50,000. Young "took to it like water," Lang said.</p><p>Lang, who made less than $30,000 at Trezevant High, said he kept upping the price until it reached $150,000, which he received in a series of payments each smaller than $10,000, the threshold at which bank transactions must be reported.</p><p>Young told him that since the payments were in cash, "If anything happened, it was his word against mine," Lang testified.</p><p>Neal also questioned Lang about denials of taking a payoff he made to federal investigators, the NCAA and officials with the Memphis school system.</p><p>Means stayed at Alabama for one football season before transferring to Memphis after reports of a payoff to Lang became public.</p><p>Alabama's recruitment of Means became part of an NCAA investigation that led to sanctions in 2002 depriving the team of scholarships and bowl eligibility.</p><p>Williams and Ronnie Cottrell, another assistant coach who lost his job at Alabama after the investigation, have filed a $60 million defamation lawsuit against the NCAA over the investigation.</p>
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