Battle On The Midway - Syracuse v San Diego State

Winston Shepard of San Diego State suspended three games

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The latest player ensnared in the web of the NCAA’s impermissible benefits rule is San Diego State freshman Winston Shepard.

Shepard has been provisionally suspended three games and will sit out tonight’s home opener against San Diego Christian. SDSU is appealing the ruling.

Here’s the statement from SDSU:

“The penalty is a result of Shepard inadvertently violating an NCAA rule. Upon becoming aware of the situation, the San Diego State coaching staff immediately reported the situation to the compliance staff, which self-reported the issue to the NCAA.”

According to Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Tribune, the issue stems from a car loan that he needed a cosigner for:

SDSU did not outline the details of the alleged transgression, but several people close to Shepard told UT San Diego that it involves a car he purchased in September with a loan co-signed by a family he had befriended while attending Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. No money was provided, the sources said, but Shepard, 19, needed someone to co-sign the loan because no one else in his immediate family qualified.

Shepard, according to people not authorized to speak publicly about the case, was unaware he may have violated the NCAA impermissible benefits rule and returned the car after “three or four days.”

The NCAA calculated benefits of approximately $400 and, because it is a relatively small amount, meted out the standard suspension totaling 10 percent of the regular season – or three of 30 games. The NCAA generally has athletes repay the money to a charity of their choice.

San Diego State heads to Missouri State on Saturday and will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff next Wednesday.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?