The NCAA rendered its decision in regards to rules violations committed by the Saint Mary’s basketball program and it wasn’t pretty, as the school was placed on probation for four years (March 1, 2013 to February 28, 2017).
The sanctions stem from illegal recruiting practices, with head coach Randy Bennett being cited for both failure to monitor and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Bennett will serve a five-game suspension next season and is prohibited from recruiting off-campus during the 2013-14 academic year but he avoids the show-cause penalty that can essentially torpedo a coaching career.
The full list of sanctions levied against the program are as follows:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Four years probation from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2017.
- The head coach must serve a five-game suspension during the 2013-14 season.
- The head coach may not recruit off-campus during the 2013-14 academic year.
- A two-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. The public report contains further details.
- Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships from 13 to 11 for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
- Elimination of foreign tours by the men’s basketball team until the start of the 2017-18 season.
- The men’s basketball team may not participate in a multiple-team event until the 2015-16 season.
- The men’s basketball team may not receive skill instruction during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
According to the report a former assistant coach knowingly committed multiple violations in the recruitment of three prospects, one of which being an international prospect. That assistant (the NCAA does not name provide names in the public report) received a two-year show-cause penalty, meaning that if any NCAA program wanted to hire him within that period it would have to meet with the Committee on Infractions to determine if the school should be subject to the show-cause penalties.
According to the committee, the former assistant coach acted unethically when he knowingly committed recruiting violations for three prospects. The majority of the recruiting activity by the former assistant coach centered on an international prospect and included impermissible travel, local transportation and the arrangement of host family accommodations. He also attempted to assist a second international prospect by providing personal financial information as part of the prospect’s efforts in obtaining a student visa. The impermissible activity occurred both while the former assistant coach was employed by the college and as an athletics representative after he was no longer employed with the college.
The two-year ban on skill instruction stems from the school failing to monitor workouts with basketball trainers and conditioning coaches from outside of the program, and Saint Mary’s is also prohibited from taking part in any in-season tournaments for the next two seasons.
That sanction makes their non-conference schedule even more important. Saint Mary’s non-conference schedule is currently ranked 143rd nationally according to warrennolan.com, and without the ability to play in such events the Gaels will need to schedule more ambitiously in those two seasons.
Saint Mary’s wasn’t hit with a postseason ban and Bennett wasn’t given a show-cause penalty, but with the scholarship reductions and recruiting restraints the Gaels weren’t let off the hook.