Former NBA star pleads guilty in bribery scheme

Former NBA star Chuck Person (L) pleaded guilty to taking $91,500 in bribes while working as an assistant basketball coach at Auburn University

Former NBA star Chuck Person pleaded guilty on Tuesday to accepting $91,500 in bribes while working as an assistant basketball coach at Auburn University.

Person, 54, was one of several university coaches arrested following an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball.

Person, who played for 13 years in the National Basketball Association, pleaded guilty to one count of taking bribes from a financial adviser.

In exchange, Person would use his influence to steer his players to the financial adviser when they were embarking on professional careers in the NBA.

"As he has now admitted, Chuck Person abused his position as a coach and mentor to student-athletes in exchange for personal gain," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

"In taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, Person not only placed personal financial gain above his obligations to his employer and the student-athletes he coached, but he broke the law," Berman said.

Person starred at Auburn before going on to a career with five teams in the NBA, where his shooting skills earned him the nickname "The Rifleman."

Person, who was fired by Auburn following his 2017 arrest, is to be sentenced on July 9.

In addition to forfeiting $91,500, he could face up to five years in prison although he is expected to get a lesser term after pleading guilty.

College basketball is big business in the United States, generating billions of dollars a year, and Person's guilty plea comes on the eve of the annual tournament known as "March Madness."

Three other assistant college basketball coaches have also pleaded guilty in connection with the scandal.