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Middle Tennessee State in line for a long weekend after falling in C-USA quarters

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One of the country’s best mid-major teams is going to have an agonizing wait for Selection Sunday.

Middle Tennessee State’s tournament future is in major jeopardy after the Blue Raiders lost Thursday in its opening game of the Conference USA tournament, getting bested by Southern Miss, 71-68 in overtime.

Without C-USA’s automatic bid, Middle Tennessee State owns a 24-7 record and a shaky position heading into this weekend.

Wins against Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Murray State are helpful, but they represent the bulk of the Blue Raiders’ resume. On the other side of the ledger are two losses to Marshall and now a loss to a sub-200 team in the Golden Eagles. That’s just not a profile that’s going to have coach Kermit Davis sleeping easy the next three nights.

This also could spell trouble for high-major bubble teams. If the committee does ultimately judge the Blue Raiders as worth of a spot among the 68, that suddenly makes C-USA a two-bid league and vaporizes an at-large spot that was anticipated to be available.

Middle Tennessee State has spent the last three years establishing itself as the real deal with back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances and a first-round win over Minnesota last year before putting together another strong regular season this year. This loss to Doc Sadler’s Southern Miss squad, though, is a harsh reminder about life in the C-USA right now. What you’ve done in the past and what you’ve done over the last three months don’t matter much if you can’t run the table in the conference tournament.

Former Southern Miss forward Jonathan Mills shot and killed

AP Photo/Lance Murphey
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In two seasons as a member of the Southern Miss basketball program from 2011-13, forward Jonathan Mills made an impression based on how hard he played the game. Monday afternoon it was reported that Mills was shot and killed in Chicago, not too far away from his alma mater of North Lawndale High School.

Before attending Eastern Utah CC and Southern Miss, Mills plied his trade at North Lawndale where he helped the school win a state title in 2008 and the Chicago Public League title as a senior in 2009. North Lawndale HS coach Lewis Thorpe told the Chicago Tribune that he and Mills had plans to work out at the school Monday afternoon, only for Thorpe to receive a phone call from his nephew informing him of Mills’ death.

Mills was going through workouts with his high school coach in preparation for a move overseas to play professionally.

The coach said he heard from witnesses at the scene that Mills had gone to a corner store with some friends and, when they came out, a car drove up and someone inside shot him.

“I’m so messed up. I am so shocked,” he said. “When I say he was well liked…everybody loved him.’’

Thorpe said Mills called him “Pops” when he coached him in high school.

After word of Mills’ death made the rounds many paid tribute to him via social media including Donnie Tyndall, who coached Mills at Southern Miss.

Former Southern Miss head coach vows to fight NCAA sanctions

AP Photo/Wade Payne, File

Friday afternoon the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced its decision regarding its investigation into the Southern Miss men’s basketball program, which at the time of the rules violations was being led by Donnie Tyndall. The violations, which included improper benefits being given to athletes and academic fraud, resulted in a two-year postseason ban (already served, as the school self-imposed this) and show cause penalties for Tyndall and three other coaches.

Tyndall’s show cause was the most severe, as he received a ten-year penalty only matched by former Baylor head coach Dave Bliss in its severity. And this isn’t a “standard” show cause either, as Tyndall would be suspended for the duration of the penalty in addition to six months tacked on to the end of it. That’s a lot for a school to absorb should they look to hire Tyndall (not to mention the violations, which for many schools would rule Tyndall out immediately), so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see him coaching an NCAA program any time soon.

Monday Tyndall appeared on SiriusXM “College Sports Nation” with Chris Childers to discuss the penalties handed down by the NCAA, and as one would expect he found them to be excessive. Tyndall also mentioned the testimony of Adam Howard, who worked for him at both Southern Miss and Tennessee, questioning the NCAA’s use of Howard’s testimony as part of the investigation.

“Absolutely shocked. Made me absolutely sick to my stomach,” Tyndall said on the show. “The reality of it is before the investigation started I was alleged to have paid for two Prop-48 kids sit out year. After the investigation ran its course it was proven that I did not give either kid one penny. So that’s a big part of the investigation and I feel like a 10 year show cause for some junior college guys that some schoolwork was done unbeknownst to me – I understand my responsibility as the head coach, I’ve said that from day one – this should have been a coach control penalty just like Coach Boeheim and Coach Brown got. And for whatever reason they decided to believe one person (Howard) who had said two different stories, the same story in two separate interviews and we had to fire him from Tennessee, then he changed his story in March for full immunity, and was looking himself at a 10-1 charge which is unethical conduct.And when he changed his story for full immunity said that I was the one that knew about the academic stuff, I was the one that directed it.”

“Forty other people, 50 different interviews in this case and not one person said that that was true. In fact, many many people said the exact opposite of what this guy said,” Tyndall continued. “So for them to believe one guy who had already said a different story on two different occasions, over 40 other people and 4000 pages of documentation – now think about that – 4000 pages and not one word of one sentence on one page linked me to any of that academic stuff. Again, I’m the head coach, it happened and I’m responsible for that but to be charged with knowing about it or having your hands on it, it’s wrong, it’s dead wrong. And I’ll fight it and do everything I can to protect my name forever, until I go in the dirt. Trust me, I’m fighting it to the very end.”

What comes of Tyndall’s fight against the NCAA remains to be seen, but it should come as no surprise that he (or anyone in a similar spot) would vow to not go down without looking to defend themselves by all available means. With the length of the penalty being what it is, Tyndall really doesn’t have much of a choice if he wants to return to an NCAA program.

The violations themselves would make that tough to begin with, but not coaching an NCAA program for ten-plus years before making a return? At this point Tyndall has nothing to lose by looking to fight the NCAA’s ruling.

Southern Miss self-imposes postseason ban for second straight year

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Last season Southern Miss, which was being investigated by the NCAA for possible rules violations that occurred under Donnie Tyndall, took the step of self imposing a postseason ban. Of course Doc Sadler’s Golden Eagles, who finished the season with just nine wins, were unlikely to play in the postseason but such moves are made to placate the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Sunday night Southern Miss announced just days before their regular season opener that they’ve decided to self-impose a postseason ban for the 2015-16 season as well.

“I am very disappointed for the current members of our men’s basketball team and coaching staff, none of whom were involved in any alleged violation of NCAA rules,” Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis said in the release. “While excruciating due to the impact on the young men in our program today, the decision to withhold our team from postseason competition following the 2015-16 season is appropriate given the findings of the recent university and NCAA review of our program.”

It goes without saying that this is an unfair situation for Sadler, who had nothing to do with the seven Level I rules violations (the most severe variety), his coaching staff and the players. None of those individuals had anything to do with those alleged violations, and in the case of the coaching staff none were there working for Tyndall before he moved on to Tennessee (where he was fired after just one season as a result of this investigation).

But given the way penalty structures are set up, it’s the coaches and players who are currently on campus who are made to pay for past transgressions. The timing of this is unfortunate to say the least, as the four seniors on the roster don’t have the opportunity to at the very least look into transferring to a school eligible for postseason play without penalty. While some may use that as a reason to criticize the NCAA, this is the best they can do and it’s a system that was set up by the member schools.

Tyndall spent just two seasons in Hattiesburg, winning 56 games and taking Southern Miss to the quarterfinals of the Postseason NIT in both years. But those on-court achievements have come at a significant cost, one that keeps Sadler and company from achieving some semblance of success themselves.

Southern Miss receives Notice of Allegations from NCAA


Southern Miss has received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA after violations were reported under former head coach Donnie Tyndall. According to a release from the Southern Miss athletics department, the school is working with the NCAA and they expect a conclusion to this before Spring 2016.

From the Southern Miss release:

The Notice of Allegations, which has been posted at, includes charges involving serious misconduct by the former head coach and members of his staff. The alleged violations do not involve any current member of the men’s basketball team or coaching staff. Importantly, the notice does not include a charge of a lack of institutional control or failure to monitor the program by the University. Further, the academic misconduct identified in the notice relates to coursework undertaken at other institutions prior to the students’ enrollment at USM.

The University understands the serious nature of the allegations and has worked collaboratively with the NCAA in reviewing this matter since last fall. We will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA through the remainder of the administrative process, which we do not expect to conclude before Spring 2016.

Tyndall left the Golden Eagles for the same position at Tennessee in the spring of 2014, before the violations were reported. Tyndall was fired by the Vols this March when it became clear that he was going to be getting hit with penalties as a result of the NCAA’s investigation. It is suspected that he took part in granting improper benefits to student-athletes that were ineligible to be on the team or on scholarship.source: Getty Images

As the Southern Miss release notes, the program did not receive a charge of a lack of institutional control or failure to monitor the program by the University. That essentially places much of the blame for this on Tyndall and his former staff, although Southern Miss could still face consequences.

You can read the entire NCAA Notice of Allegations here.

Southern Miss self-imposes postseason ban for this season

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Southern Miss has self-imposed a postseason ban for the men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, the school announced in an official release on Tuesday night.

The ban stems from an ongoing university and NCAA investigation into the basketball program from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons under former head coach Donnie Tyndall, now the head coach at Tennessee. Tyndall’s former assistant coach at Southern Miss, Adam Howard, resigned as a Tennessee assistant coach in late November amid an NCAA probe. Multiple sources told at the time that they believed that Howard resigned because of the NCAA investigation.

The postseason ban for Southern Miss means the school and new head coach Doc Sadler will not participate in the 2015 Conference USA Tournament or any postseason tournaments. The Golden Eagles are currently 5-11 on the season and 0-5 in Conference USA play. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Southern Miss players refused to practice after being informed of the school’s decision on Tuesday afternoon.

The school’s Director of Athletics, Bill McGillis, released a statement in the official release.

“I am saddened and extremely disappointed for the members of our men’s basketball team, who will not be able to participate in the postseason this year, as well as for our new coaching staff and fans,” McGillis said. “This self-imposed penalty was a painful, but necessary, decision based on information gathered during the review process and available to the university at this time.”

Southern Mississippi is under investigation by the NCAA for rules violations involving “Prop 48″ players brought into the program under Tyndall.

“Prop 48″ players are recruits that are ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA when they enter college. According to a story from Bleacher Report‘s Jason King, the players in question weren’t on scholarship at Southern Miss, but they enrolled in classes and lived in apartments in Hattiesburg while taking the credits they needed to get eligible. Where the resources for tuition and rent came from is what the NCAA investigating.