Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Former Nicholls State basketball coach involved in UNT hoops scandal

Profile image for Brett Vito
Brett Vito, Staff Writer

Marlon Terry has resigned as an assistant men's basketball coach at Nicholls State University, just days after his name appeared in court records associated with a criminal investigation into former members of the University of North Texas men's basketball program.

Marlon Terry
Marlon Terry

Nicholls State sent the following statement to the Denton Record-Chronicle on Friday afternoon: "Nicholls State University recently received and accepted the resignation of Mr. Marlon Terry. Mr. Terry is no longer affiliated with the university, its athletic department, or men's basketball program in any capacity."

Nicholls State is located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and has often been a UNT basketball opponent. The teams last played in Denton in December 2015.

Terry's resignation is the latest development in the investigation that came to light Tuesday when UNT President Neal Smatresk emailed the campus community about UNT police issuing arrest warrants for students accused of organized criminal activity, including promotion of prostitution and drug possession.

Rickey Brice Jr., a junior who played for the Mean Green last season, was arrested Monday on a marijuana possession charge. He posted $1,000 bail and was released the same day, jail records show.

Former team manager Brian Emmerson Johnson was arrested Wednesday on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and possession of marijuana.

Johnson was booked into Denton City Jail on Wednesday and was later released.

According to the arrest affidavit written by UNT police Officer Ramona Rosborough, Johnson and a former UNT player arranged for Terry to meet with a woman on March 29 to have sex in exchange for money.

Terry took one of the two alleged victims in the case to an off-campus location in Denton, where she performed sex acts in exchange for money, according to the affidavit.

Johnson, the former team manager, and the former player, who has not yet been identified, asked two female victims to have sex with other people for money, according to police records.

The Record-Chronicle has not identified the former UNT player because he has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime.

The UNT police investigation was triggered March 30 when a residence hall assistant reported through an online complaint hotline that Johnson and the unnamed student allegedly engaged in sexual assault and prostitution at their off-campus apartment.

The complaint hotline was established under the Clery Act, a federal law that requires universities to release information about sexual assaults, violence and crime.

Rosborough's affidavit says the resident assistant was with the assault victim when Johnson and the unidentified student called the victim. The resident assistant heard the two soliciting her to engage in sex for money, the affidavit states.

"[They] explained to the victim the amount of money that could be charged, as well as their ability to find professional clientele," the affidavit states.

On April 6, two days after the observed phone call, police searched Johnson's apartment, which he shares with Brice. Officers found marijuana, leading to the arrest warrants for Brice and Johnson, authorities said.

Deborah Leliaert, a vice president and spokeswoman for the university, said UNT police are leading the investigation, which she said is continuing.

UNT has hired Bond, Schoeneck & King, a national law firm headquartered in Syracuse, New York, to conduct an independent review and "ensure that there are no cultural or climate issues within the basketball program," Smatresk said.

The UNT police investigation is progressing on a separate track.

School officials would not comment on the investigation because it is an ongoing case.

Kelley Reese, a spokeswoman for UNT, told the Record-Chronicle on Wednesday that the three students were all still enrolled at the university full time. However, they are all banned from campus.

Terry just completed his first season as an assistant coach at Nicholls State. It's unclear why he would be involved in a case in Denton. Terry has not been arrested or charged with any criminal offense.

UNT has played Nicholls State regularly over the years, but has not faced the Colonels since Dec. 14, 2015, when the teams played in Denton.

Terry has more than 10 years of experience coaching at the Division I level and has made stops at Maryland Eastern Shore, the University of Montevallo, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Angelina Junior College and the University of Texas at El Paso.

News of the investigation and arrests shocked the UNT community.

"It's very sad," Gayle Strange, former chairwoman of the UNT Board of Regents and a UNT booster, said earlier this week. "We are always upset when anything like that happens to our students or athletic programs. I am very confident the university will handle it in a transparent and fair manner."

UNT men's basketball is entering its first season under Grant McCasland. The former Arkansas State University coach took over UNT's program March 13. He replaced Tony Benford, who was fired March 5.

"Coach McCasland and I are committed to building a championship culture on and off the court and will not tolerate anything less than a safe, respectful, and welcoming environment where all of our students can learn, grow, and thrive," UNT athletic director Wren Baker said in a statement Wednesday. 

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870.