Updated, 10:00 a.m. Saturday, added link to excerpts from transcript of news conference.
10:20 a.m. Friday, statements from St. Mary's College administration.
The NCAA slapped a four-year probation on St. Mary's College Friday for failing to monitor its men's basketball program as well as a failure to "promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head men’s basketball coach as well as impermissible training and coaching sessions."
The college is thinking of an appeal. Basketball coach Randy Bennett, in a statement, accepted responsibility while saying the penalties are "clearly excessive."
Leadership of the small college in Moraga "has decided to accept the findings of the report, but will consider seeking an appeal on the penalties," according to a statement posted on the college website Friday morning.
St. Mary's has achieved great success under Bennett in the last five years, with a steady stream of recruitment of high-level players from Australia. Prominent among those is current star guard Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills, a guard who now plays for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA.
“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,” said Saint Mary’s President Brother Ronald Gallagher. “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.”
Penalties imposed by the NCAA's Division 1 Committee include:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Four years probation from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2017 — which apparently scotches the Gaels' bid to return to the NCAA basketball tournament in several weeks.
- 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. The public report contains further details.
- 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 Contra Costa Times included some interesting excerpts from the Friday morning news conference at St. Mary's College. Here's one from Director of Athletics Mark Orr:
"This major infractions case did not have anything to do with our current, former, prospective Australian student-athletes. I want to make sure that is clear ... There are secondary violations that include everything from impermissible workouts that include members or our team in general. There's a secondary violation involving a pass-list issue. A secondary violation involving a young man getting a cab ride to a test. Those secondary violations do include Australian student-athletes as well as other student-athletes."
“I am disappointed,” said Bennett. “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.”
“We do many things right but we can always do better,” said Orr. “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.”