NCAA suspends Frank Haith five games, docks Miami three scholarships

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Missouri head coach Frank Haith has been suspended five games by the NCAA for violations that he committed while the head coach at Miami, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

“The former head men’s basketball coach failed to meet his responsibilities as a head coach when he did not monitor the activities of his assistant coaches, and attempted to cover up the booster’s threats to disclose incriminating information, according to the committee. Additionally, two assistant football coaches and one assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules,” the NCAA’s report stated.

The suspension shouldn’t hurt Missouri too much. Their first five opponents? Southeastern Louisiaina, Southern Illinois, Hawai’i, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI. George Hill ain’t walking through that door.

Back in February, Haith was charged with “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” stemming from a story written by Yahoo! Sports in 2011. Haith was reported to have had knowledge of a $10,000 payment given to DeQuan Jones, a top 25 recruit. Nevin Shaprio, a convicted Ponzi-schemer and admitted booster for the Miami football program, told Yahoo! that he had given the money to assistant coach Jake Morton.

Morton, who was an assistant coach at Western Kentucky until April when he resigned, was not given a show-cause penalty by the NCAA, but Jorge Fernandez, who was most recently an assistant at Marshall, did receive a two-year show-cause. That news was reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Miami will also lose one basketball scholarship for each of the next three years, putting Jim Larrañaga in an even more difficult position as he tries to rebuild the program after losing six of his top seven players from last year’s ACC champions.

Here are the details the NCAA dug up on Miami hoops:

Two former assistant men’s basketball coaches looked to the booster to entertain high school and nonscholastic coaches of prospects. A former assistant men’s basketball coach did not follow NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false information during his interviews about providing airline points for a flight to a prospect and his high school coach. Despite giving the high school coach his airline account information to purchase flights with frequent flyer miles, the former assistant men’s basketball coach stated he did not know his airline points were used. During the hearing, the former assistant men’s basketball coach then admitted that he provided false information.

When the booster began experiencing financial trouble, he requested that the former head men’s basketball coach loan him a large sum of money or that the former head men’s basketball coach return the booster’s $50,000 donation. The former head men’s basketball coach denied the booster’s request; however, a former assistant men’s basketball coach agreed to loan the booster $7,000, which the booster eventually repaid. After the booster was incarcerated in 2010, he began to threaten the former head men’s basketball coach and assistant coach and demand money. The committee determined the former head men’s basketball coach and the former assistant men’s basketball coach worked together to make sure the booster received $10,000 to end the booster’s threats.

The former head men’s basketball coach was aware of the booster’s threats and he took steps to help a former assistant men’s basketball coach to make a payment to the booster’s mother to end the threats. As the leader of a high-profile basketball program, he had a responsibility to make sure he and his staff followed the rules. However, the former coach did not meet his responsibilities and this conduct resulted in violations. The committee noted that had he asked about the basis of the threats and the former assistant coaches’ relationship with the booster, he could have recognized potential concerns or taken the issue to the compliance office.

The Hurricane athletic department will accept all sanctions, which means that this saga, which has dragged on for years, will more-or-less end today.

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.