MORAGA, Calif. – One of the most powerful midmajor programs in college basketball has been found guilty of breaking some big-time rules.
The NCAA put Saint Mary’s on four years of probation Friday for a “failure to monitor its men’s basketball program,” reducing scholarships and placing other penalties on the team after the governing body said the school committed several recruiting violations.
A report by the NCAA Committee on Infractions found that Gaels coach Randy Bennett “failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance,” particularly over the recruiting practices of a former assistant. Bennett will not be allowed to recruit off campus and will be suspended for the first five West Coast Conference games next season.
Saint Mary’s will still be allowed to participate in the league tournament and the NCAA tournament but can’t play in preseason or in-season tournaments not already contractually obligated to attend. The team also will have a reduction in scholarships from 13 to 11 for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and an elimination of all foreign tours until the start of the 2017-18 season.
Bennett said he takes “full responsibility” for the mistakes but thought the penalties were too harsh.
In addition, the NCAA charged an unnamed former assistant with unethical conduct, saying he “knowingly committed violations during the recruitment of three prospects.” The report said that the assistant arranged for travel to the United States and lodging with a local family for at least one recruit and that Bennett was aware of the activity.
Saint Mary’s president, Brother Ronald Gallagher, said the university accepts the findings in the report but will consider an appeal on the penalties.
The school has two weeks to file an appeal, he said.