Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard suspended

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Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard has been suspended two games by the school as the NCAA investigates charges of transfer tampering, the school announced on Tuesday.

Willard will sit out the Pirates’ exhibition game on Tuesday night against Misericordia and will also be out for the Seton Hall regular-season opener on Nov. 5 against Wagner.

Seton Hall’s athletics department released an official statement on Willard’s suspension and the NCAA’s involvement in the investigation on Tuesday.

“Seton Hall University has been working collaboratively with the NCAA enforcement staff to address an infraction within our men’s basketball program,” the statement said. “Our department has been proactive in our review and has been fully cooperating with the NCAA enforcement staff. As head coach, Coach Willard assumes responsibility for the program, including this underlying violation, and has agreed to sit out the October 29 exhibition contest and the November 5 game.  This matter is still in review, and as a result, we will refrain from commenting any further until it is resolved. Seton Hall is and always will be committed to a culture of compliance, and we will continue to work diligently to ensure it.”

According to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press, the NCAA will give a ruling on whether the two-game suspension for Willard is a stiff enough penalty in the near future.

Although Seton Hall should be concerned with the uncertain status of its head coach, the Pirates should have no problems in Willard’s two-game absence. Expectations are high for Seton Hall this season as they return most of last season’s NCAA tournament team — led by senior Myles Powell. The Pirates check in at No. 13 in CBT’s Preseason Top 25 as they’ll be a major competitor in the Big East this season.