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Sports >  Idaho basketball

Idaho fires men’s basketball coach Don Verlin after he was placed on administrative leave

UPDATED: Fri., June 14, 2019, 11:25 p.m.

Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin leaves the court for halftime during a game against Eastern Washington on  Jan. 31, 2015, in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin leaves the court for halftime during a game against Eastern Washington on Jan. 31, 2015, in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

MOSCOW, Idaho – Three weeks after suspending him when a consultant’s review disclosed three possible NCAA violations, the University of Idaho cut ties with men’s basketball coach Don Verlin.

He was terminated for cause, interim athletics director Pete Isakson announced late Friday afternoon.

No settlement terms accompanied Idaho’s announcement of Verlin’s firing.

In 11 seasons with the Vandals, Verlin compiled a record of 177-176.

Assistant coach Zac Claus has been named interim head coach for the 2019-2020 season. Assistants Kirk Earlywine and Tim Murphy will remain in their current roles, including ongoing recruiting this summer. A search for a new permanent men’s basketball coach will take place next spring.

Earlywine and Murphy were involved in one of the alleged violations, according to the report prepared by UI’s consultant, Ice Miller. Those coaches and Verlin watched a Vandals recruit, Eric Mireri, in pickup games on campus during Mireri’s official recruiting visit last March.

The coaches believed Mireri had completed all the necessary paperwork required to participate in the games, but a required medical test had not been done and Mireri had not signed a waiver making the test unnecessary. The Ice Miller report notes: “Claus was absent attending a funeral.”

Ice Miller also points out: “Verlin reported that when the compliance staff discussed Mireri’s participation in the evaluation with him, Verlin promptly acknowledged an inadvertent violation of the medical documentation requirement.”

Another alleged violation involved the participation of a noncoaching basketball staff member, Brooks Malm, in coaching activities at practice and in games. UI compliance director Jordan Hall in a January email to UI deputy general counsel James Craig, said when Hall asked Verlin about the extent of Malm’s participation, Verlin “said it was almost every practice. I am really thankful that he was honest and upfront with his answer.”

The Ice Miller narrative surrounding the third alleged violation was redacted in the consultant’s report that UI made available to The Spokesman-Review.

Idaho self-reported the incidents to the NCAA. It imposed penalties and corrective measures on itself, to include suspending the head coach for one regular-season game, prohibiting Malm from attending preseason drills and regular-season practices during the 2019 fall semester, reducing coaches’ contact with players from 20 to 19 hours per week during the 2019-2020 season, imposing a $5,000 fine and requiring the basketball staff to attend an NCAA regional rules seminar.

Idaho will also count itself as having used an additional official recruiting visit in the two-year 2018-2020 recruiting cycle – bringing its total to four. It will also impose a three-week ban on arranged unofficial visits next fall, reduce by 16 person-days recruiting for the 2019-2020 academic year, and reduce coaches’ contact with players this summer and next fall by 16 hours.

According to athletics spokesman Mike Walsh, relevant individuals in the athletics department and UI administration were not on campus Friday and will address Verlin’s release in the near future. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Isakson said, “we weigh many factors before we make a decision. These are not easy conversations or decisions, but we have a direct responsibility to do what is best for the university. Our fundamental goal in U of I athletics is that each sports program be a source of pride for the Vandal community – pride in our competition performance, in how we educate our student-athletes and in how we run our department.”

The decision to fire Verlin was reached after consultation with outgoing president Chuck Staben and incoming president Scott Green, who will officially become the school’s chief executive July 1.

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