An ongoing investigation by the NCAA hovered over the Hawaii men’s basketball program last season, one in which then-interim head coach Benjy Taylor led the Rainbow Warriors to within a win of the NCAA tournament. With the school since hiring a new head coach in former Saint Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot, Friday evening Hawaii announced that it has self-imposed some sanctions as a result of the investigation.
Among the sanctions are the vacating of 36 wins in which athletes since ruled to be ineligible, Isaac Fotu and Davis Rozitis, played, the payment of a $10,000 fine and the forfeiture of one scholarship in each of the next two seasons according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Hawaii, which received a Notice of Allegations in late January, has placed itself on probation for one year and will also cut its practice time for the upcoming season. Prior to the 2014-15 season the school fired head coach Gib Arnold and also replaced assistant Brandyn Akana as a result of the NCAA investigation.
Both coaches were cited in the Notice of Allegations, with Arnold being charged with “obstructing an investigation or attempting to conceal the violations.”
“For the most part these violations involve either intentional or careless failure to follow well-known bylaws that members of the men’s basketball coaching staff understood but failed to obey,” the school said in a release according to the Star-Advertiser. “The coaches compounded the adverse impact of these poor decisions when they (1) failed to report to the university’s compliance department their own or other violations in the program; (2) instructed or encouraged staff members and student-athletes to conceal or not report the violations or; (3) provided false or misleading information during the investigation rather than admit the violation occurred.”
The next step for Hawaii is a meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, which by rule should occur within the next 60 days. That meeting will determine whether or not the NCAA determines the self-imposed sanctions to be sufficient, and if not what additional penalties they may hand down.
Kansas freshman forward Cliff Alexander has experienced the highs and lows that most newcomers have to deal with in college basketball, but his season took a significant turn February 28. Alexander was sidelined as a result of the NCAA looking into an issue that could compromise his eligibility, but not much was offered up by Kansas as to what the NCAA is looking into.
Late Thursday, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that the NCAA is looking into the possibility that one or more of Alexander’s family members received impermissible benefits from an agent. Alexander has missed the last two games for the Jayhawks, and it’s likely that Alexander be forced to play the role of spectator Saturday when the Jayhawks visit No. 15 Oklahoma because of the “speed” at which the investigation is moving.
Alexander has not yet been interviewed by the NCAA, sources said, though not because of a reluctance by either the school or NCAA investigators. Sources said legal counsel has been retained by the Alexander family and that may be slowing the investigative process.
Kansas will also be without junior forward Perry Ellis, who suffered a sprained right knee in Tuesday’s overtime win over No. 20 West Virginia. Ellis will be re-evaluated next week, and the results will determine his status for the Big 12 tournament. Even with Alexander on the court reserves such as Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor received opportunities to earn minutes, and in the win over West Virginia Hunter Mickelson was solid as well.
With there being no set time as to when Alexander will be able to return, those three become even more important for the Jayhawks as they look to play deep into March.
With the men’s basketball program under investigation for alleged violations of NCAA rules, Syracuse took the step of self-imposing a postseason ban for this year’s team. Not only does this mean that Jim Boeheim’s team won’t play in the NCAA tournament (should they have been selected), but they’re also unable to play in the ACC tournament or Postseason NIT.
“I am very disappointed that our basketball team will miss the opportunity to play in the post-season this year,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said in the release. “Senior Rakeem Christmas has been an outstanding member of the team for the past four years. However, I supported this decision and I believe the University is doing the right thing by acknowledging that past mistakes occurred.
“Our players have faced adversity and challenges before. I know they will rise to this challenge by keeping our program strong and continuing to make our University proud.”
The school originally self-reported violations to the NCAA back in 2007 according to the release, and in October Syracuse officials met with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis. Among the alleged violations Syracuse is being investigated for are impermissible benefits being given to players, and the academic issues involving former players Fab Melo and James Southerland.
This is the second postseason ban of Boeheim’s tenure at the school, with the first coming in the 1992-93 season. Yet unlike the current team that Syracuse squad was allowed to play in the Big East tournament, losing in the title game to Seton Hall.
It was also noted in the release that none of the current players are implicated in the investigation, which makes this punishment a tough one for them (especially Christmas, who’s out of eligibility after this season) to take. Whether Syracuse would have landed in the NCAA tournament or NIT, to make this decision at this point in the season is unfair to them.
But these decisions are made to placate the NCAA, and hopefully lessen the severity of the penalties handed down by the Committee on Infractions when it makes its decision.