Pastner looks to keep momentum going in Year 2 at Ga Tech

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2017, file photo, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner answers a question during the Atlantic Coast Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C. Josh Pastner's first season at Georgia Tech went much better than expected. Heading into his second season as coach, Pastner knows his program is facing much greater expectations. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

Chuck Burton

Ron Bell, a former UA student and current Tucson resident, said he provided improper benefits to two of Josh Pastner's Georgia Tech players, according to a CBS Sports report.

Bell attended the UA in the 1980s and befriended coach Lute Olson, he said, because he was the nephew of longtime New York AAU coach Ernie Lorch. Bell was introduced to Pastner when the latter was a UA player in the late-1990s, according to the story, and the two remained close. Bell traveled to Tennessee to support his friend when Pastner was under fire as Memphis' head coach; they stayed close when, in 2016, Pastner left the school to become Georgia Tech's head coach. 

Bell told CBS Sports that he provided two Georgia Tech players extra benefits, including round-trip airfare and ground transportation to his Tucson home. He provided CBS a picture of both players in his pool. Pastner said the didn't know about the violations until the school self-reported them on Oct. 2. Bell, a 51-year-old recovering addict who spent nearly four years in prison, said Pastner knew more. He said the two had a heated exchange over the issue. 

"And basically what (Pastner) told me is, 'Nobody is going to believe you because you were in prison, and I've never been to prison, and I have a great reputation, and I don't cheat,'" Bell said. "And I said, 'You don't cheat?' Yes, you do. Yes, you do.'"

Georgia Tech issued a statement to CBS saying that the program "will investigate any allegations regarding the NCAA thoroughly." The athletic department previously distanced itself from Bell, a fact that the whistle-blower said still bothers him.

"I'm not connected?" Bell told CBS. "I had credentials to be anywhere I wanted to be."