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.