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Appeals committee says former Southern Mississippi men’s basketball coach must serve show-cause order

Download the 2017 University of Southern Mississippi Former Basketball Coach Appeals Report

The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel’s finding that a former University of Southern Mississippi head men’s basketball coach acted unethically. The committee also confirmed the former coach must serve the 10-year show-cause order prescribed by the Committee on Infractions panel from Feb. 2, 2017, through Feb. 1, 2027.

In 2016, a Committee on Infractions panel found that the former head coach acted unethically and failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he directed his staff to complete fraudulent coursework for seven prospects so they could be immediately eligible to compete. The Committee on Infractions panel prescribed a 10-year show-cause order for the former head coach for his involvement in the violations. During that period, the Committee on Infractions panel noted that if the former head coach is employed by an NCAA school, he must be suspended by the employing school from all coaching duties. After that period, any NCAA school that hires the former head coach must suspend him for the first 50 percent of the first season he is employed.

In his appeal, the former head coach argued that the unethical conduct findings related to academic misconduct are contrary to the evidence and that the Committee on Infractions panel relied on a former assistant coach who provided information only after receiving limited immunity. He asserted that immunity was improperly provided and any information gained should not have been considered credible because the former assistant coach previously provided inaccurate information. He also argued that the record does not have any additional evidence that shows he was aware of the academic misconduct in his program.

The former head coach also asserted the 10-year show-cause order should be vacated if the findings are overturned, and if the findings are not overturned, the penalties should be set aside as an abuse of the panel’s discretion, he argued.

After reviewing the record, the Infractions Appeals Committee found that the former head coach did not demonstrate any grounds for overturning the panel’s decision. The Infractions Appeals Committee noted the former head coach did not present any information to support his claim that the former assistant coach should not have been found credible, and he had ample opportunity to directly challenge the veracity of the information provided.

The Infractions Appeals Committee further concluded the former head coach did not show that the Committee on Infractions panel abused its discretion in prescribing the 10-year show-cause penalty. Considering the totality of the violations and aggregating factors supported by the record in the case, the Infractions Appeals Committee found the penalty was properly prescribed in accordance with the penalty guidelines.

Members of the Infractions Appeals Committee are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members who reviewed this case are David Williams, committee chair and vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics and athletics director at Vanderbilt University; Ellen Ferris, associate commissioner for governance and compliance at the American Athletic Conference; W. Anthony Jenkins, attorney in private practice; and Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.