NCAA issues

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Kansas forward Diallo granted waiver to travel to Maui

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With No. 4 Kansas headed to Maui to participate in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the status of impact freshman forward Cheick Diallo remains up in the air.

Diallo has yet to be cleared for competition by the NCAA, so while he can help the Jayhawks in practices he’s yet to take the floor in game action for head coach Bill Self. Friday morning the school announced that Diallo has been granted a waiver to travel with the team to Maui.

The question: what does this mean with regards to the possibility of Diallo being cleared at some point in the near future? That is anyone’s guess at this point. While it can be viewed as a positive that Diallo is being allowed to travel, when it comes to such investigations so little information is made public that it’s tough to tell.

And while it isn’t a perfect comparison since Marquette was on its summer trip to Italy, the NCAA allowed Haanif Cheatham to travel despite being in eligibility limbo. Cheatham would eventually be cleared but it was too late for him to play in any of Marquette’s exhibitions in Italy, with the good news breaking while the Golden Eagles were playing their final exhibition of the trip.

Diallo’s a high-energy power forward who would have a significant impact once on the floor. But even with Friday’s piece of good news, we still have no indication of how much longer he’ll have to sit out.

Under NCAA investigation, Hawaii announces self-imposed sanctions

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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.

Report: NCAA investigation of Kansas freshman focuses on possible receipt of impermissible benefits

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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.

Syracuse announces decision to self-impose postseason ban

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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.

Former Georgia Tech head coach recuses self from Syracuse’s NCAA hearing

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Thursday and Friday are setting up to be important days for the Syracuse basketball program, with their meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis taking place. What course of action the NCAA ultimately decides to take in regards to Syracuse’s case will be learned at the end of those meetings, with the committee using the hearings and evidence acquired through its investigation to recommend possible sanctions.

Wednesday it was learned that one of the members of the Committee on Infractions, former Georgia Tech and College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins, has recused himself from the case due to his relationship with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. Cremins discussed the situation at ACC Media Day.

“Jimmy and I are good friends,” said Cremins, who was attending the ACC’s media day here on Wednesday. “I had to immediately recuse myself.”

Cremins said it’s not unusual to have to recuse himself from an infractions case.

“One of the problems for me is I do know a lot of the coaches,” he said. “Most of my cases have been about other sports.”

The NCAA draws on a pool of 18 people to fill its Committee on Infractions. In most cases, the committee consists of six members. Cremins is the National Association of Basketball Coaches representative on the infractions committee.

As Cremins noted in the quote above this isn’t the first time he’s taken such a measure. In addition to the cases involving college coaches he may have prior relationships with, Cremins also recused himself from a case involving Georgia’s swimming program earlier this year. Cremins’ decision to recuse himself from that case came as a result of his sharing a mutual friend with Georgia swim coach Jack Bauerle.

Of course, there’s also the matter of the heated Georgia/Georgia Tech rivalry, which likely influenced Georgia’s request to have Cremins recused (their request came after Cremins’ request).

Clerical issue resulted in nine-day scholarship check delay for nearly 60 Hawaii athletes

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For college athletes the summer consists of some classes in order to keep on track (or get ahead) academically while also working out with the strength coaches on campus. And with the dorms at many schools closed for the summer, the process of procuring off-campus lodging is an important one with summer scholarship checks being used to handle things such as housing deposits and monthly rent.

The problem for nearly 60 athletes at the University of Hawaii: clerical issues resulted in a nine-day delay in receiving the funds needed to take care of those necessities. As a result, according to the Associated Press seven of those athletes affected stayed in the locker room with energy bars providing the majority of their “nutrition.”

Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay accepted blame for the situation, stating that “when it comes down to it, we need to plan better.” But he also commented that NCAA rules prevented the school from helping those athletes, something that John Infante of AthleticScholarships.net had an issue with.

According to Infante the school could have assisted those athletes in need without concern of violating NCAA rules.

A waiver might not even be necessary under the NCAA’s new interpretations philosophy. Say the proposed action is advancing the athletes money to pay their rent and deposit and for groceries. There is essentially no benefit to the athletes; they are actually just getting what they should have gotten but for the NCAA’s error. Not having a place to live and having to eat energy bars instead of real food is a health and safety issue. This seems well within the “green” category under the new interpretation philosophy and Hawaii should have been able to help these athletes even without involving the NCAA.

Hopefully this is a situation Hawaii doesn’t find itself in down the line, but it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll be more mindful of possible clerical issues when it comes to making sure their scholarship athletes receive their checks on time.