Coach says he took money from three schools

Updated: January 27, 2005, 3:56 PM ET
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A former high school coach told a federal jury Wednesday that he got offers of money, a job and free law school for his wife before he accepted a $150,000 payoff to steer his best player to sign with Alabama.

Lynn Lang, the former head coach at Trezevant High School, testified for the second day at the trial of Logan Young, a Memphis millionaire who is on trial on federal bribery and money laundering charges.

Lang is awaiting sentencing on a guilty plea to racketeering conspiracy. He said he took the money to convince defensive lineman Albert Means to sign with the Crimson Tide in 2000.

In testimony Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Lang said that 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.

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.

Lang also told jurors that Arkansas 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.

Means, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, previously testified that he let Lang choose his college.

Lang said he began shopping Means around to various colleges in 1999 when he realized how many schools wanted him.

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 and current ESPN football analyst 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.

But he said that 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.

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.

Young told him that since the payments were in cash, "If anything happened, it was his word against mine," Lang testified.

Neal also questioned Lang about denials of taking a payoff he made to federal investigators, the NCAA and officials with the Memphis school system.

Means stayed at Alabama for one football season before transferring to Memphis after reports of a payoff to Lang became public.

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.

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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press