Penn legend Jerome Allen opens up about bribery scandal


Jerome Allen had to clear the air. More so for himself than anything else. In a Q & A with Marc Spears from The Undefeated, the former University of Pennsylvania star, who is currently an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, opened about taking $300,000 in bribes to get a Florida businessman’s son into Penn as a “recruit,” which he addresses in his new book.

The book, entitled "When The Alphabet Comes: A Life Changed by Exposure," is set to release in October, and Allen said it gives him a chance to “... give my testimony.”

Allen shared that the book was cathartic in a lot of ways because it helped him realize how his mistakes affected those he loved and didn’t intend to hurt.

The Penn hoops legend also learned to forgive his own dad because of the juxtaposition that his decision to accept the bribes put his son in. He captured the sentiment in this story he recalled to Spears:

“I tried to pen the story from a real perspective. One of the stories in [the book] is I was a junior in college [at Penn] and we were about to play Harvard one night, and as I’m walking off the floor for pregame shooting, someone comes up to me, asks if my father needs money. And I’m like, ‘What?’ He asked me again, ‘Jerome, does your dad need money?’ I’m asking, ‘What are you talking about?’ And they say, ‘Oh, he’s outside, in front of The Palestra asking people for change as they come into the gym.’ And so, he was so high, that he didn’t realize where he was at. And for me to be on campus at an Ivy League institution inside The Palestra, for him to kind of embarrass me like that was, that judgment I’ve placed on him, I vowed to hate him for the rest of my life.


“So fast-forward 20-something years later, the Wharton School of Business undergraduate degree graduation is held inside The Palestra. And my oldest son is graduating and he wins a dean’s award at the Wharton graduation. He also wins the second-highest award of the senior class that year. He goes to Penn and he kills it. And then in that same building where so many people that share my name, because I played basketball there, people stood up and cheered for completely different reasons. And then my case breaks, so that same compassion and empathy or that unwillingness to extend forgiveness towards my own father, now I’m begging for it for my own son.

"And so, the book, or this exercise in my case, kind of helped me talk about the hypocrisy that, I ain’t going to say we all carry, but I was carrying in terms of just that in itself.”

The 47-year-old went on to discuss why he chose Penn after receiving 16 basketball and football scholarship offers while a senior at Episcopal Academy. He also went into what it’s like being a Black assistant coach in the NBA jockeying for one of the coveted 30 head coach openings in the league.

Allen spent five seasons at Penn and is also in his fifth season with the Celtics, who currently trail the Miami Heat, 3-1, in the Eastern Conference Finals.