St. Mary’s College of California head men’s basketball coach must complete a five-game suspension and will be restricted from off-campus recruiting during the 2013-14 season as issued by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, according to NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee reports released today. In a separate appeal by the school, Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the reduction of men’s basketball scholarships issued by the Committee on Infractions.
In March 2013, the Committee on Infractions found the school failed to monitor its men’s basketball program and a former assistant men’s basketball coach acted unethically in his recruitment of international prospects. Additionally, the head men's basketball coach was cited for a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance as well as arranging impermissible training and coaching sessions.
Penalties in the case include four years of probation, a reduction of two scholarships per year for the men’s basketball team during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years, a five-game suspension for the head coach during the 2013-14 season, recruiting restrictions and a two-year show cause for the former assistant coach.
In the head coach’s appeal, he contested the determination of violations and asked the Infractions Appeals Committee to set aside penalties imposed by the Committee on Infractions. Specifically, he argued that the Notice of Allegations’ lack of specificity constituted a procedural error and the Committee on Infractions’ determinations are not NCAA violations.
After reviewing the case, the Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the Committee on Infractions’ findings and the head coach’s penalties. While the Infractions Appeals Committee did not determine if the lack of specificity in the Notice of Allegations constituted a procedural error, the committee determined there was enough evidence to support the Committee on Infractions' findings of NCAA violations, particularly regarding the provision of impermissible workouts to student-athletes, the provision of game admissions to nonscholastic personnel and the failure to maintain an atmosphere of compliance.
In its appeal, St. Mary’s (California) argued that the scholarship penalty imposed by the Committee on Infractions was excessive, such that it constituted an abuse of discretion, in light of previous Committee on Infractions cases. The Infractions Appeals Committee disagreed.
While the Infractions Appeals Committee has noted that any quantum leap in penalty from similarly situated cases requires an accompanying rationale for such departure from the Committee on Infractions, it will not find an abuse of discretion in an instance where a review of previous cases results in reasonable differences of opinion as to their application. The Infractions Appeals Committee found that the most recent cases involving recruiting violations in basketball provide a wide enough spectrum of potential penalties within which this case falls.
The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee who heard this case were: David Williams, vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics and athletic director at Vanderbilt University, chair; Susan Cross Lipnickey, health studies professor and the faculty athletics representative at Miami University (Ohio); Jack Friedenthal, professor of law at George Washington University; W. Anthony Jenkins, attorney at Dickinson Wright PLLC; and Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at University of Texas at Austin.