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Long Beach State men's basketball penalized

Mar 6, 2008 3:10:07 PM

The NCAA News

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized Long Beach State University for major and secondary violations in its men's basketball program. This case involves improper benefits, impermissible transportation and phone contacts, unethical conduct and a failure to monitor by the institution and the former head coach.

Penalties for the violations, including those self-imposed by the institution, include three years of probation, a reduction in recruiting activity, a vacation of records, a reduction in the number of men's basketball scholarships, as well as a four-year show-cause order for one former assistant coach and a five-year show-cause order for another.

Under this show-cause penalty, should the former assistant coaches seek athletically related employment with any NCAA institution during this time period, the individuals and the hiring institution must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine whether his duties should be limited.

The violations committed by members of the men’s basketball coaching staff occurred between late August 2004 and the end of August 2005. The university’s 2005-06 recruiting class included six two-year college transfers, none of which were eligible for admission to the university or athletics participation. Beginning in May 2005, with the knowledge, encouragement and assistance of the coaches, the young men took additional classes, including correspondence courses, at various institutions. Some of the young men needed as many as nine hours in a short period of time to meet academic requirements, the committee said.

The violations committed by two former assistant coaches and the former administrative assistant included paying or arranging for payment to register some or all of the six two-year college transfers in classes, paying or arranging for payment of fees so that transcripts of the transfers’ coursework could be obtained, providing impermissible tutoring and transportation, as well as making impermissible phone calls.

Also, one former assistant coach obtained a correspondence exam for one of the student-athletes, allowed the young man to complete it without a proctor, then forged the name of his friend as the proctor and returned the exam to the issuing institution.

Once an investigation into the violations began, the two former assistant coaches compounded the violations by providing false information to investigators on numerous occasions. In addition, one former assistant coach asked a number of student-athletes to provide false information and the second former assistant coach asked his friend to provide false information regarding proctoring the exam.

The committee found that both former assistant coaches failed to deport themselves in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship associated with the conduct and administration of college athletics.

The committee also found that the former head coach failed to monitor the men’s basketball program. Though the head coach was aware that the six two-year transfers were deficient academically and taking numerous courses in a short period of time, including one of the young men taking four classes at three different junior colleges, the former head coach did not ask questions regarding their classes, sources of support or the level of his assistants’ involvement with the young men. He also failed to involve the compliance office in the monitoring effort.

The committee also found that the university failed to monitor its men’s basketball program in its recruitment of transfer student-athletes. The committee has stated in numerous infractions reports that institutions have a duty to monitor the activities of prospective student-athletes in the vicinity of campus in the summer prior to initial enrollment. The committee states in its report, “This is particularly important when the prospects have not yet achieved admission to the institution and/or athletics eligibility.”

This case involved secondary violations as well, which are outlined in the Committee on Infractions' public report.

In determining the penalties, the Committee on Infractions considered the institution's cooperation in the investigation, self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are as follows:

•         Public reprimand and censure.

•         Three years of probation (March 6, 2008, to March 5, 2011).

•         A prohibition from recruiting two-year college transfers or permitting such transfers to participate in men’s basketball for those student-athletes entering the university for the 2008-09 academic year. (Self-imposed by institution).

•         Reduction of scholarships in men's basketball from 13 to 12 in each of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years. (Self-imposed by institution).

•         Reduction in the number of official visits to nine (from the maximum of 12) for each of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 recruiting years. (Self-imposed by institution).

•         Reduction from three to two in the number of coaches who can recruit off campus during the summer recruiting period of 2007. (Self-imposed by institution).

•         A five-year show-cause order for one former assistant coach effective from March 6, 2008, through March 5, 2013.

•         The second former assistant coach’s current employing institution self-imposed a number of penalties, which are detailed in the public report. In addition to these penalties, the committee imposed a penalty prohibiting him from recruiting and/or signing any two-year college transfer student-athletes for the 2008-09 academic year.

•         A four-year show-cause order for the second former assistant coach effective from March 6, 2008, through March 5, 2012.

•         A vacation of all wins, including any recorded in conference tournaments or the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, in which the six two-year transfer student-athletes competed while ineligible. The individual records of the six young men shall also be vacated. Further, the university’s records regarding men’s basketball as well as the record of the former head coach will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated records and so recorded in all publications in which the men’s basketball records are reported, including, but not limited to, media guides, recruiting materials and institutional and NCAA archives. Finally, any public reference to tournament appearances and performances during this time shall be removed, including, but not limited to, athletics department stationary and banners displayed in public areas such as the arena in which the men’s basketball team participates.

The Committee on Infractions consists of conference and institutional athletics administrators, faculty and members of the public. The committee independently rules on cases investigated by the NCAA enforcement staff and determines appropriate penalties. The committee's findings may be appealed to the Infractions Appeals Committee.

The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case are Josephine Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law and chair of the committee; Paul Dee, director of athletics at the University of Miami, and formerly the institution's general counsel; Eileen Jennings, general counsel at Central Michigan University; Alfred Lechner, Jr., attorney; Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and formerly director of athletics at Hampton University; Thomas Phillips, attorney with the Austin, Texas office of the law firm Baker Botts and formerly the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court; and Jack Friedenthal, professor at George Washington University National Law Center.

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