Josh Pastner files civil suit against Arizona couple alleging he knowingly gave players benefits

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner has filed a defamation lawsuit and restraining order against an Arizona couple who accused him of knowingly breaking NCAA rules, 11Alive News confirmed on Friday night.

Dan Wolken of USA Today tweeted the news on Friday night. Georgia Tech confirmed that it was aware of Pastner's lawsuit and released the following statement:

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"We are aware that Georgia Tech men’s basketball head coach Josh Pastner has filed a civil lawsuit in Arizona. Coach Pastner and his legal team have been keeping Georgia Tech fully appraised of the situation, and we support Coach Pastner in his efforts to address this personal matter. Georgia Tech does not comment on pending legal cases."

Pastner filed a civil suit in Pima County, Arizona against Ron Bell who accused him of knowingly providing impermissible benefits to his players, including Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson.

Bell told CBS Sports that Pastner was providing him envelopes of money and gift cards to use for providing benefits to his players at Memphis and Georgia Tech. Bell said he did things like buying groceries for the players and allowed them to stay at his house with a pool.

Georgia Tech self-reported violations in November that Okogie and Jackson had received benefits from a person outside the program. They reported that the cost of the benefits between the two players came out to $1,200. Bell, who admitted to being that person, claims it was more than that. Both players were suspended for several games at the start of the season.

Bell and Pastner used to be friends, but Bell said they had a falling out. That's when, Bell alleges, Pastner threatened to expose Bell and why he self-reported the violations. Bell is a recovering drug addict who spent time in prison from 2009 to 2013.

Pastner is accusing Bell and his girlfriend of extortion and blackmail, according to USA Today. Other reports state Pastner is claiming the couple tried to defame, extort and blackmail him by threatening to release false information that would be damaging to his reputation and job.

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