The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Friday that Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga failed to monitor its men's basketball program, and issued severe sanctions as a result.
The men's basketball program and a former assistant men's basketball coach acted unethically in his recruitment of international prospects from France, according to the Division I Committee on Infractions. The case also includes a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head men's basketball coach Randy Bennett as well as impermissible training and coaching sessions, the NCAA reported.
According to Comcast sports, the penalties do not include the West Coast Conference or the NCAA tournaments. But the sanctions do include Maui, Holiday and pre-season national invitational tournaments. Most of these violations took place in 2009.
“I am disappointed,” Bennett said in a statment. “I cooperated fully with the investigation and accepted responsibility where I came up short. The penalties are clearly excessive and although I’m still reviewing the report and trying to understand it, I know already that the report fails to include important mitigating information and tells only part of the story. I’ll continue to review the report and consider my options.”
St. Mary's College said that "college leadership has decided to accept the findings of the report, but will consider seeking an appeal on the penalties."
“We do many things right but we can always do better,” St. Mary's College Director of Athletics Mark Orr said in a statement. “As the Committee on Infractions report reveals, we can all do a better job of ensuring that our staff and student-athletes positively reflect the College in everything that we do. Coach Bennett understands Saint Mary’s strong commitment to NCAA rules compliance and we will continue to work with him to ensure that compliance remains paramount. We have already undertaken many corrective actions in response to the NCAA investigation and I am confident that we are a stronger institution because of them.”
Penalties in the case include:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Four years probation from Friday through Feb. 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.
- 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.
The former assistant coach knowingly committed violations during the recruitment of three prospects, the committee found. When warned by the California Interscholastic Federation twice about the activities of the former assistant coach, the college did not proactively investigate the recruiting activities, the committee found. Additionally, the men's basketball team received impermissible training and coaching sessions from trainers not employed by the school.
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, the committee found. 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.
During the recruitment of the international prospect, the committee said that Bennett failed to monitor the activities of the former assistant coach. The head coach was aware of the former assistant coach's previous employment with a professional sports agency and his termination from a two-year college due to improprieties.
The head coach was also aware of the former assistant coach's recruiting activity with the international prospect for whom the former assistant coach arranged travel to the United States and lodging with a local family, the committee found.
The committee noted that these were "red flags" and should have alerted the head coach to the need for heightened vigilance with regard to the former assistant coach's recruiting activity.
Additionally, the NCAA stated that Bennett knew that impermissible conditioning and practice sessions were conducted by two individuals not employed by the college, resulting in failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere for compliance.
The college said that in advance of the NCAA report, the St. Mary's team had volunatrily implemented corrective measures. They include:
- Improving oversight and compliance procedures, including the hiring of a full-time compliance officer and issuing formal permanent disassociation with the former assistant coach.
- Reduced from 13 to 12 maximum men’s basketball scholarships during 2014-15 year
- Reduced from 12 to 9 official visits during 2012-13 and 2013-14.
- Reduced number of recruiting days (from 130 to 85) during 2012, 2013-14 academic years.
- Prohibited Bennett from off-campus recruiting during July 2012 and April 2013 periods.
- Reduced the number of coaches (from 3 to 2) recruiting off-campus at one time during 2012-13.
“Saint Mary’s was founded on principles of integrity, service and Catholic values and we expect all in our community to act according to those values,” Saint Mary’s President Brother Ronald Gallagher said. “We are proud of our achievements in athletics and of the commitment of our staff and students to the College’s principles. We have taken—and will take—further steps to monitor our compliance and to ensure that our coaches, staff and students abide by all rules and regulations.”