Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:18 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 6:38 pm

Report: Syracuse players violated drug policy

The Yahoo Sports story on drug violations is the latest off-court distraction for the Orange program. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

UPDATE: Syracuse University released this statement: "In accordance with NCAA regulations, it is the University's practice to self-report possible violations to the NCAA. We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry. The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time."

Yahoo Sports is reporting Syracuse men's basketball has dealt with a pattern of violated drug tests over the course of the past 11 years. And not only that, but the program often overlooked, or ignored, those violations while players continued to be eligible. These transgressions could lead to action by the NCAA, if it deems the program willfully violated protocol. The 2003 NCAA championship season is currently under speculation, though not directly or solely, and could be retroactively investigated by the NCAA.

The news comes just as Syracuse finished one of its greatest regular seasons in program history, finishing with a 30-1 record and on the cusp of a No. 1 seed in next week's NCAA tournament. Does this mean anything for this year's team? That is unclear, but seems unlikely right now. The NCAA hasn't offered up a statement, and Jim Boeheim offered no comment to Yahoo Sports when they told him of their story.

From Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson and Pat Forde:
Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.
There is no indication the drug policy violations have taken place this season, willfully or otherwise.

This news adds to the most dramatic off-court narratives during a season in the history of the program, as the allegations of sexual molestation against Bernie Fine was a fireball of a story at the start of this season. There was also a minor off-court story from January was a grades issue related to Orange center Fab Melo, who missed three games.

Syracuse is the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament and plays a to-be-determined opponent in Thursday's noon ET game at Madison Square Garden.

Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:01 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 4:07 pm

NCAA hands harsh punishment out to Radford

Greenberg is un-hirable for the next five years. (AP)
By Matt Norlander

The NCAA's Committee on Infractions formally handed out some heavy punishments on Radford and its former head coach, Brad Greenberg, Friday. In addition to a token "public reprimand," Radford was put on two years' probation and tacked with a reduction of two scholarship and official paid visits.

The school's probation started Feb. 24 and will go through Feb. 23, 2014. It was also vacated wins -- all four of them from the 2010-11 season.

Greenberg was given a five-year show-cause, one of the heaviest penalties in terms of length a coach can receive, while some of his former assistants were docked with two-year show-causes for any off-campus recruiting. Greenberg and Masse Doumbe's (the player in relation to this case) names are intentionally and specifically omitted in the public report.


Greenberg, the brother of Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, was fired last May in the wake of a 5-24 season. He served a four-game suspension from the school at end of last year, when it was discovered he and his assistant coaches helped with travel for Doumbe, who was ineligible at the time. The reason he's being punished so harshly is because the NCAA discovered he was lying during its investigation, not because Doumbe found his way onto an airplane with the team.

Greenberg's essentially blacklisted from coaching in college for the next five years because he tried to help an ineligible player — then tried to get that player, Doumbe, to cover it up with him when the NCAA asked about it. For some perspective, the most recent show-cause penalty handed out by the NCAA was a three-year one to Bruce Pearl after he, like Greenberg, was caught lying during an investigation.

The cover-up is worse than the crime, primarily because the NCAA can now catch lying coaches more frequently than blatantly cheating ones.

“These reports speak for themselves,” Greg Sankey, associate commissioner of Southeastern Conference and Committee on Infractions member said in reference to the collusion.

The NCAA’s case initially centered on recruiting and the inducement and benefits, from four former coaches and the school, as well as Greenberg. Sankey said the case became more serious once Radford was found to be concealing information, as well as providing false/misleading information, from the NCAA during its investigation — and that he was imploring Doumbe to do the same.

Those violations became “the essence of this case,” according to Sankey, as they are directly in conflict with what the NCAA considers to be a coach’s responsibility from a moral and ethical standpoint. Radford University stood side by side with the NCAA on this stance and is not fighting the charges.

“Unlike the coaches, the institution and its administrators were commended that they cooperated fully,” Sankey said. “The NCAA and Radford were in agreement in most penalties.”

Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:41 pm

Michael Beasley suing former AAU coach, agent

By Matt Norlander

Michael Beasley is suing the person who, at one point in his life, was probably the second- or third-most vital human being to Beasley's success in basketball. The other is his former agent.

Wednesday night, The Washington Post reported an expansive story on Beasley -- one of the biggest impact players in college basketball in 2008 -- suing Joel Bell, who briefly (officially) represented Beasley through September of 2008, and Curtis Malone, Beasley's AAU coach in high school.

The suit is a counter to Bell's suit that Beasley ended his contract prematurely.

Beasley was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft. This legal fight has been a long time coming, and because it's over broken verbal and written contracts, the seedy side of amateur athletics comes leaking out the side of the foundation.

As for the collegiate angle, there's no telling if this will affect Kansas State in any way, or Dalonte Hill, the former K-State assistant now at Maryland who got Beasley to play for the Wildcats.

You want to know how things get done at the AAU level? This is it. And it's only getting out because former friends, coach and player, have gotten into a tussle over money. An agent was promised a player would be his, and that promise didn't quite work out.

Money gets players and coaches and schools and agents and runners into these situations, and many times, it tosses them out of them, into the light where rolled eyes come just after fingers point with cynicism instead of amazement. Coaches, agents and would-be agents see talent at 13, 14 and 15 years of age, and the plan is concocted. Let's get that kid. Let's get him now. You get him on your team, you push him toward me when he's older, and I'll represent him when he's making NBA money.

Many times, this happens without a kerfuffle. Other times relationships go sour and word never escapes. But Beasley and Bell were separated mere months after the business marriage, and now the dispute is public.
Beasley asserts in his suit that Bell Sports Incorporated President Joel Bell bankrolled Curtis Malone’s nationally recognized DC Assault summer basketball program and that in return Malone felt obliged to steer Beasley ... to Bell for professional representation. Beasley’s suit contends that, along the way, Bell and Malone violated NCAA rules and federal laws governing agent conduct. Beasley’s accusations are part of a countersuit against Bell and a third-party claim against Malone filed Sept. 27 in Montgomery County Circuit Court in response to a Jan. 21 breach-of-contract suit filed by Bell Sports Inc. against Beasley. Bell’s original suit claims Beasley wrongfully terminated his representation agreement with Bell Sports Inc. just prior to signing an endorsement deal with Adidas.
Ah, yes. There's the shoe company, and those are just as responsible for the rule-breaking behavior in amateur sports as any other, organization or outfit. The story depicts Bell and Malone as a duo who frequently helped out Beasley and his family, taking care of everything from food to travel to getting out of serious vehicle violations, like driving with a suspended license, which Beasley's mother was nabbed for.

Malone's lawyer, Bill Heyman, told the Post, “Mr. Malone absolutely denies the allegations of impropriety made against him in the third-party complaint.”

Bell and Malone and Beasley won't be speaking about this publicly. They never intended to, and long after the suing ends, maybe they'll pipe up, but there won't be much new information to gather, I wouldn't imagine. The Post's story depicts Beasley's mother depicting Malone -- Beasley AAU coach, remember -- as a runner. And unfortunately, that's how some are seen. A lot of these AAU coaches are tied into agents and runners, and become de factors themselves. They're incubating potential gold-making chickens; you're expecting them not to flirt with the temptation?

To add another layer to this, it's known that Beasley used to stay with Malone regularly. Beasley attended five high schools, was highly coveted, and without much consistency in his life, Malone was a constant. The two were very close. Now there's this. A fallout because a relationship was built of money and the prospect of getting rich off a prospect.

The Post reports that between 2005 and 2009, DC Assault brought in nearly $600,000 in "contributions and grants." The team, like many AAU programs, is registered as a charity. Since it's a public charity, donors to the program are not mandatory to be listed. The report is dense, so very detailed and really well-done. A lot of it has to do with issues between Beasley and Bell well after he left college, but this issue started in the echoey gyms when Beasley was a naive high school freshman, and two guys conspired to team up with him in hopes of using his ability to make them wealthy.

It happens so often in hoops. Exposing it is nearly impossible, because the interested parties don't benefit from squealing. Something bad needs to happen. Someone needs to get burned. In this case, long after college and AAU is behind them, nobody's afraid to confront the seedy past.

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:55 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 9:58 am

Bob Knight commits secondary recruiting violation

By Matt Norlander

Just because you're long out of the coaching game doesn't mean you can't commit an NCAA violation.

It's looking like Bob Knight talked to a couple of recruits on the phone, and since those recruits have verbally agreed to play at Lamar, where son Pat Knight coaches, then an NCAA violation did indeed take place. Only basketball staff members, with a few exceptions, can speak with recruits about joining any sports program. Even though Bob Knight is Pat's father, he's considered a person of influence; it's why universities do their best to get famous alums around the schools as frequently as possible. Those notable alums can't speak directly to recruits, but their presence can have an influence.

It must be noted Knight had a near-flawless record with the NCAA during his coaching career. His Hall of Fame tenure at Indiana revolved around winning a ton of games (and three national titles), graduating his players and not breaking the rules. The fact this likely secondary violation has occurred drips with irony.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Regarding his conversation with Bob Knight, Minton said, “He told me that he thought I’ d be a good fit for the program and said he hoped he’d see me at Lamar.” The Beaumont Enterprise reported last week that the players “attended the Lamar football game Saturday and talked by phone with Bob Knight.”

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said he couldn’t comment specifically on the Lamar situation because he didn’t know the details. He added, however, “Generally speaking, telephone calls to prospects can only be made by coaching staff members or those listed in the exceptions.” The exceptions include the university president and academic advisors.
Lamar is reported to be dealing with the situation internally right now, and it's likely they'll self-report and receive a slap on the wrist. Pat Knight, who's about as different from his dad as you could expect, didn't hide from the issue. In fact, in the following  135 words, he sounds a lot like Pop.

“It was a quick hello on the phone and that was it,” he told the Star. “We recruited the heck out of the kids. He had nothing to do with that. I mean, he just was excited we were recruiting Indiana again and wanted to say hello to them and that was it.”

Pat Knight added, “At least I’m not paying them. The NCAA should look into guys that are paying players and not worry about guys that are doing it the right way. ... I don’t care if my dad is a celebrity or not. I think it’s (expletive), honestly. The guy is my dad. If he wants to say hello to a recruit, he can. If we get reprimanded, fine. They need to check into guys that are outright cheating instead of nickel-dime stuff like that.”

And ... scene. Thank you, Pat Knight.

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 17, 2011 6:47 pm

Vandy's Ezeli suspended for six games

By Matt Norlander

Festus Ezeli, the big man partly responsible for Vanderbilit being No. 7 in CBSSports.com's Top 25 (and one) preseason poll, has been suspended six games.

The sitting is related to improper benefits, specifically, that Ezeli had a hotel meal and room paid for by an Vanderblit alumnus. Such activity is in violation of NCAA rules, and so Monday afternoon, the school announced it was sitting Ezeli for six games.  Vanderbilt discovered the incident after an internal investigation from the school's compliance office finished in early August.

The school says it immediately reported the violation to the SEC. The NCAA has complied with Vanderbilt's punishment, and no further action from the NCAA will occur. Ezeli will return to the team on Nov. 28, when Vandy plays against Xavier (ranked No. 13 by CBSSports.com).

"The improper benefits stemmed from a chance encounter earlier this summer with an out-of-town alumnus while on a weekend trip to visit friends," the school said in a statement. "The NCAA prohibits any benefit extended to a student-athlete that is not readily extended to all students by boosters of the school's athletic program, which includes by definition its alumni."

"I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room," Ezeli said in that statement. "I would have been able to afford those things myself. I have always tried to do the right thing; I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team."

Vandy's vice chancellor, David Williams, as well as head coach Kevin Stallings were vocally in support of Ezeli's character in the wake of the mildly embarassing infraction. (Of all things to get comped or bought, a hotel room isn't exactly at the top of any player's wish list.)

"All of us are disappointed, especially Festus," Stallings said. "He is always striving to do the right thing and cares a lot about the university, our program and certainly his teammates. He is allowed to practice and play in our exhibition game and we look forward to his return Nov. 28. Neither Festus nor I will be making any further comments on this matter and will direct all questions to Vice Chancellor David Williams."

Ezeli, a senior, averaged 13 points per game last year.


Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 2:36 pm

Oklahoma offers up more punishments for itself

By Matt Norlander

Think Lon Kruger knew this was part of the deal when he came to Oklahoma?

Think he would have left UNLV a few months ago anyway if he did?

I have to believe he knew what was coming, that officials with the university laid out the forthcoming scenario to him when he was getting ready to ink a contract. Still, Kruger's not going to have a lot to work with in the coming years, as he'll sift through the mess, the erosion, that was left by the Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel eras. Both saw major infractions levied against the basketball program.

The latest came Thursday, as the Sooners, according to the Associated Press, asked the NCAA to give it two more years worth of probation, and not only that. The school offered up a docked scholarship, two offiicial visits taken away and 10 in-person recruiting days to be eliminated for 2011-12. There's also a vacation of the 2009-10 season, when OU went 13-18, the year after Blake Griffin left the team. A vapid, meaningless-yet-mandatory action every school has as its go-to now.

Why so much, though? It's because Oklahoma acted badly under Capel -- while it was already on probation the first time, in the aftermath of the Sampson violations.

This peace offering from OU to the NCAA stems from major violations by Oronde Taliaferro, a former assistant under Jeff Capel, who is now an assistant coach with Duke. Taliaferro was forced out in 2010, when Oklahoma began its investigation into the wrongdoings, specifically, illegal phone calls.

"The university and NCAA investigators released a summary report Thursday proposing penalties for the infractions committee to consider. Athletic department spokesman Kenny Mossman said that process should take several weeks and Oklahoma will not comment until the process is resolved," according to the AP's report.

Oklahoma committed major violations while it was on probation. That's huge, folks, even if you don't consider the phone-call rules to be contemporary. And the NCAA, and its president, Mark Emmert, have stated they're going to go hard after the rule-breakers. Harder than in most cases before. Oklahoma's giving up a lot here. The case may not be sexy or get much attention, but since -- as of now -- there's no apparent lying or veiling of facts, this could be a barometer for how serious the NCAA wants to be.

Since those affiliated with the Capel years are now gone (like Pearl and Tennessee's case), if not much else is thrown at Oklahoma, then we'll know what kind of regime Emmert is running. If schools eliminate all vested parties and attached coaches to staffs that commit major violations, will schools largely be off the hook afterward? Oklahoma's verdict will be one of the few in the early going that clues us in.

Photo: AP

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 16, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:42 pm

NCAA's inane, arcane phone rules strike again

By Matt Norlander

Because a coach sent a text to a cellphone instead of an email, Georgia was put on 30-day probation in May, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All together now: facepalm.

The advent of phone technology has rendered a lot of the NCAA's contact rules in regard to coaches and recruits not only obsolete, but dumb and irresponsible.

Here's what happened, per the Journal-Constitution:
Men’s basketball assistant coach Kwanza Johnson sent an impermissible text to prospect Robert Carter of Thomasville on April 25. Johnson immediately reported to the UGA complaince office that he had intended to send the note to Carter via his phone’s email function (email is permissible). Nonetheless, UGA self-imposed a 30-day communication ban in May and prohibited Johnson from phoning prospects for two weeks, which the SEC accepted without adding penalties.
A sensible resolution for a problem that should have never become a problem. May isn't a huge recruiting month, so Georgia got out of this relatively unscathed, but it doesn't make the rule any less stupid. The NCAA is in the process of slowly but surely changing its texting, emailing, Facebooking and tweeting regulations, as it should be. The rules don't make sense anymore. If email is allowed, any other form of electronic communication should be as well.

There's also a movement afoot to eliminate a limit on phone calls during the recruiting period.

The blog post linked above also shows that Georgia football was hit for "inadvertent" phone calls. Pocket dials. Of course! Thank goodness there's reform coming, because the pocket dial could and would become the ultimate cop-out, though the NCAA would have none of it, I'm sure.

The frustrating aspect about all of this is how slow the NCAA has been to change its guidelines, when smartphone usage has skyrocketed in the past three years. It is now the highway for recruiting. The NCAA catches a few high-speed delinquents from time to time, but more often than not it's pulling over violators for things that amount to a broken tail light.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 12, 2011 5:35 pm

Bruce Pearl: NCAA meeting ‘not really’ a relief

By Matt Norlander

Tennessee athletic officials met with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions Saturday afternoon in downtown Indianapolis. The long-awaited, delightful encounter was one giant finger-wagging from the NCAA’s moral authority to Tennessee’s football and basketball departments, both of whom were on hand to receive verbal reprimand for their misdeeds in the past two years.

The meeting served as a single and only get-together between the offending institution and the one judging it before the penalties come down. Tennessee also had its chances to make cases, reasons and apologies for its athletic department's behavior under the tenure of Bruce Pearl, Lane Kiffin and outgoing athletic director Mike Hamilton.

The NCAA will deliver its punishments for the football and basketball programs — most likely including the aforementioned former Tennessee coaches who are no longer at the school — later this summer. (Thinking it’ll be August.)

Despite his ties being cut from Tennessee, Bruce Pearl's leash still had a tug. That's Pearl pictured at Saturday's meetings, which he was mandated to show up for. The affable coach sported his patented orange suspenders (don’t suppose he’ll have many more opportunities to strap those on in public) and gave reporters a smile as he headed into the meetings.

But when he left he was solemn and didn’t think the situation was all that better. He's still ashamed of lying to the NCAA about a barbecue with recruits he had at his house nearly two years ago. It cost him perhaps the highest-paying high profile job he'll have in hoops.

Pearl told reporters there was no uplifting feeling from the day’s meetings. Makes sense: these COI meetings aren’t supposed to create positive morale or uplifting thoughts. Schools are supposed to walk out of them, tail duct-taped between legs.

Asked if Saturday's hearing served as a relief, Pearl said, "not really."

"Obviously, we paid a very heavy price," he said. "All of us have, the university, my coaching staff and our Tennessee fanbase. There's not much relief."

One by one, former coaches, current administrators and current UT coaches all departed without commenting to a handful of reporters who camped outside the closed-door hearing from start to finish.

That group included: former basketball assistants Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes; Vols football coach Derek Dooley; men's athletic director Mike Hamilton, who resigned Tuesday; interim athletic director Joan Cronan, men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and senior associate athletic director David Blackburn.

Specifics from the meetings aren’t allowed to go public, so most choose to not speak to the press to avoid flirting with the possibility of slipping up. It makes sense that Pearl’s former assistants chose not to talk. No coaches did save Pearl and Kiffin, and they're no longer affiliated with Tennessee, except in regard to the pending matters of this investigation and ruling from the NCAA. Outgoing Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton was also mum.

Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek did offer a brief statement to the media that was camped out in corridors of the Marriott where this all took place.

“We are glad we had the opportunity to present our case. We feel it was a fair hearing, and we look forward to the resolution of this matter," Cheek said.

Now the final waiting begins. There is no definitive timetable. I stated above I think this will come in late August, but the NCAA took five months hand down its punishment to UConn. It will come when the NCAA decides it needs to come. Until then, Pearl and Tennessee twist in the wind, awaiting a verdict from a governing body that's vowed to be more strict in its penalties.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com