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Former Siena men’s basketball head coach provided impermissible benefits

Download the Mar. 2020 Siena College Public Infraction Decision

The former Siena men’s basketball head coach provided impermissible cash payments to student-athletes, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The former coach also arranged for his staff members to provide long-distance rides to student-athletes and told the former director of basketball operations, a noncoaching position, to provide coaching to the team.

According to the committee, the former coach gave cash to student-athletes in the locker room after games on multiple occasions over a three-year period. The payments ranged from $60 to $100 or more. The former coach also gave a student-athlete approximately $100 during team strength and conditioning activities in the weight room.

In its decision, the committee said the former coach acknowledged some of the violations and stated he misunderstood NCAA rules. The former coach said he believed he could provide the cash as an “occasional meal” and his staff could provide the transportation as an “occasional ride.” The committee said the former coach did not ask the compliance staff whether either situation was permissible.

“Contrary to the head coach’s explanation, the benefits rules are well-known to the membership,” the committee said in its decision. “The head coach did not provide an occasional meal to student-athletes; he gave them cash. Likewise, he arranged for rides covering hundreds of miles, not reasonable local transportation on an occasional basis as permitted under NCAA rules.”

The impermissible cash and rides resulted in 28 student-athletes competing while ineligible, according to the committee’s decision.

The former coach also directed and permitted the former director of basketball operations to present scouting reports during film review, participate in drills, coach the scout team, provide instruction during practices and coach in games. The former coach characterized the activities as being in a “gray area” under NCAA rules, but the committee said there is no gray area in the rules and noted it has consistently concluded that coaching activity violations occur when noncoaching staff members participate in these activities with student-athletes.

The committee said the former coach violated head coach responsibility rules and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he personally involved himself in the violations and directed his staff members to violate rules.

The head coach also violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he denied giving a student-athlete money in the weight room. In its decision, the committee said there was substantial information in the record that contradicted his denial.

A booster interfered during the investigation by contacting an assistant strength coach to tell him to recant information he reported about the head coach to the NCAA enforcement staff. The panel said the college is responsible for the booster’s conduct that undermined the infractions process and threatened the integrity of the investigation.

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Three years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply and must suspend him from the first 30% of the first season of his employment.
  • A vacation of records in which men’s basketball student-athletes participated while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public release of the decision.
  • A disassociation of the booster through March 8, 2023. Details of the disassociation are contained in the public decision.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green; Jody Conradt, retired head women’s basketball coach and special assistant to athletics at Texas; Joel Maturi, chief hearing officer and former Minnesota athletics director; Gary L. Miller, president at Akron University; Kay Norton, president emeritus at Northern Colorado; and Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.