NCAA forces Northern Colorado to vacate 2011 Big Sky title, hits ex-coach hard

The NCAA has come down hard on Northern Colorado in an academic fraud case connected with the men's basketball program and its former coach, B.J. Hill.

The governing body announced Friday that Hill has been handed a 6-year show-cause penalty, and the Northern Colorado basketball program is being forced to vacate its 2011 Big Sky title. The NCAA accepted Northern Colorado's self-imposed postseason ban from last season, which is important as the Bears are off to an 8-3 start, which is one of the best records of Big Sky teams.

The NCAA's findings determined that nine members of the Northern Colorado men's basketball staff, including Hill, were directly involved in the violations, "which included completing coursework for prospects, paying for classes the prospects needed to become academically eligible and arranging off-campus practice sessions with an academically ineligible student-athlete," according to the NCAA panel's findings. Hill admitted his failure to carry out his duties and two coaches on his staff were found to be in violation of ethical rules for providing false and misleading information during the investigation.

Here are more details from the NCAA's findings.

Penalties in the case include three years of probation; a one-year postseason ban for the men's basketball team; a financial penalty; scholarship and recruiting restrictions; and a vacation of records. Seven coaches received show cause orders, including a six-year penalty for the head coach, five years for two assistant coaches, four years for another assistant coach, and three-year show cause orders for two assistant coaches and the graduate assistant. During the show cause periods, if an NCAA school hires the coach, that school must demonstrate why restrictions on the coach's athletically related duties should not apply. [NCAA]

"Although the underlying conduct in this case was contrary to the membership's core expectations, the processing of the case featured a level of cooperation and agreement among the parties that exceeded those expectations," the NCAA panel conducting the investigation said. "Northern Colorado, under the strong leadership of its president, set an example for all member institutions in its handling of this case."

The academic fraud and recruiting violations uncovered in the investigation spanned four years under Hill, who will not be coaching through at least 2023 when his show-cause expires. The three-year probation period for the men's basketball program will begin Dec. 15, 2017 and run through Dec. 14, 2020.

Our Latest Stories