The Saint Mary’s basketball team has grown considerably under Randy Bennett. The Gaels have qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times during Bennett’s 11-year stint as head coach.
However, multiple sources have confirmed with ESPN.com that Saint Mary’s has been under NCAA investigation this year, looking into possible recruiting violations.
According to ESPN’s Andy Katz the NCAA has declined to comment on the issue. He went on to add that it’s uncertain what Saint Mary’s is even under investigation for.
ESPN attempted to contact Bennett, athletic director, Mark Orr, director of media relations, Mike McAlpin. All of these calls went unanswered, except for McAlpin, who said he would look in to the matter, but hasn’t responded since last week, according to Katz.
Sources have also confirmed with ESPN.com that former assistant coach David Patrick was interviewed by the NCAA.
Patrick, now an assistant coach at LSU, abruptly left the Gaels in 2010 to become a scout for the Houston Rockets. Patrick, who was suspended for a year by the NBA for working out players during the lockout, helped recruit several Saint Mary’s players from Australia, notably guard Patty Mills.
Katz also noted that several WCC coaches stated Bennett was absent during the July recruiting periods. Bennett did have back surgery in June and when asked if Bennett was held out of recruiting or whether he was recovering from surgery, Saint Mary’s compliance officer, Stephanie Shrieve declined to comment, according to ESPN.
The Gaels finished 27-4 last season, before losing to Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.