Amid Adidas background questions, former ASU assistant Anthony Coleman joins CU basketball

Courtesy photo / University of Colorado athletics
New Colorado assistant coach Anthony Coleman spent the last three seasons at Arizona State.
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Tad Boyle was content with the idea of taking his time in filling the vacancy on his Colorado coaching staff this spring.

Yet when Anthony Coleman not only became available, but expressed a clear desire to come to Boulder, Boyle believed he couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Even if it required a little more background work than normal.

Confident a name that reportedly has been invoked during this week’s trial in the FBI college basketball corruption probe indeed is clean enough to join the staff of a coach who has been outspoken on the two-years-and-running FBI scandal, Coleman officially became a member of Boyle’s staff on Friday.

Coleman spent the past three seasons as an assistant on Bobby Hurley’s staff at Arizona State but previously worked in sports marketing at Adidas. Coleman also spent a season as the director of operations at USC under former head coach Kevin O’Neill. He replaces Kim English, who spent two seasons at CU before taking an assistant coach job at Tennessee two weeks ago.

“After speaking with people that worked with him in various capacities at USC and Arizona State, we got nothing but glowing feedback,” Boyle said. “We vetted him through the NCAA and their compliance files. He did work at Adidas for about three and a half years, and in that time he developed relationships all throughout college basketball and grassroots basketball.

“Obviously if I had any indication that he was involved in any improprieties, especially with recruiting and what’s going on with the trial in New York, I wouldn’t have even considered Anthony for this position. But he’s a young, extremely bright coach who’s got a great future. We’re really excited to have him on staff. I do feel comfortable and confident. I trust him. I trust that everything he’s told me and that everyone has told me that I’ve talked to about Anthony. He’s a quality guy.”

On Thursday CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, who is covering the trial, tweeted a series of updates from the testimony, one of which stated that FBI witness Marty Blazer said Coleman was among a group of assistant coaches who did not receive bribes because, essentially, they simply didn’t boast enough clout with top-end recruits.

Coleman’s name also surfaced 13 months ago when, according to the LA Times, he was one of several Adidas personnel whose communications with the North Carolina State athletic department were subpoenaed. When asked by BuffZone.com on Friday about the allegations that have surfaced in this week’s trial, Coleman’s reply was succinct and direct.

“That’s absolutely false,” Coleman said. “When I went in there it wasn’t about bribery or any of that stuff. False. Completely false. My experience being in the basketball world as long as I’ve been in it, you encounter a lot of people and it is what it is. I’ve carried myself at a high level and a high standard, and I’ve done that in my professional world as well.”

A California native who played college basketball at Xavier and Long Beach State, Coleman actually married into a family with a strong CU background. His wife, Nellie, is the granddaughter of former Buffs football player Bob Spicer, an offensive lineman in the 1940s. She also has a sister and an uncle who attended CU.

Arizona State reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons with Coleman on the staff, and he is roundly credited with making the contact that brought Luguentz Dort to Tempe this past season. A second team All-Pac-12 selection as a freshman, Dort averaged a team-leading 16.3 points and 4.3 rebounds before declaring for the NBA draft.

“I’ve always admired coach Boyle from afar. I’ve always heard great things about him,” Coleman said. “People I know who I respect in this business say unbelievable things about him as a coach and a teacher. Once the opportunity presented itself, it was kind of a no-brainer. When coach Boyle and I had a conversation there was a gut feeling. It just felt right.”

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07