The Josh Pastner era hasn’t gone according to plan at Georgia Tech, with the team winning 21 games in his first season and regressing to back-to-back losing seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. With that as the backdrop, things took a turn for the worse in Atlanta on Thursday evening, with a report from Ken Suguira of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shedding light on an NCAA investigation into the men’s basketball program.
The NCAA reportedly gave Georgia Tech a notice of allegations centering on recruiting violations, with former assistant Darryl LaBarrie and a former associate of Pastner, Ron Bell, as the central parties. Within the confines of the AJC’s report, information came to light that LaBarrie is alleged to have taken a prospect, during an official visit, to a local strip club.
The NCAA found that in November 2016 – six months after his hire to join Pastner’s staff – LaBarrie took a prospect on an official visit and a team member to a strip club and facilitated an improper recruiting contact with a person described in the notice as a representative of the school’s athletics interest. It also found that the prospect and team member were provided by $300 cash, though not by LaBarrie. (All names in the report but LaBarrie’s and Bell’s were redacted.)
LaBarrie has not been a part of the program since being placed on administrative leave in 2017 but he is also alleged to have “provided false or misleading information to the NCAA,” bringing even more turmoil to Georgia Tech. Beyond that, the NCAA is treating Bell as “a representative of the school’s athletics interest” and his reported actions include providing a pair of Georgia Tech players, Josh Okogie (now with the Minnesota Timberwolves) and Tadric Jackson, “with shoes, clothing, meals and travel expenses worth in excess of $1,400.”
It should be noted that the portion of the report centering on Bell is not new information, as the AJC notes that “Bell himself made public in November 2017 after his falling out with Pastner.” Still, the LaBarrie angle of the story is just as damning and, even with the important caveat that Pastner reportedly avoided being named directly in the report, the head coach is always in the line of fire to some degree when dealing with alleged high-level violations.
In response to the story, Pastner’s attorney released a statement on Thursday evening.
Georgia Tech will be dealing with the NCAA on a number of levels in the coming weeks but, for now, we know that the Yellow Jackets have to defend themselves against major allegations while simultaneously attempting to improve their on-court performance for 2019-20 and beyond.