NCAA suspends DePaul coach Dave Leitao for three games and places basketball program on probation

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The NCAA announced penalties for the DePaul men's basketball program Tuesday, handing down a three-game suspension to Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao and also putting the program on probation for three years after finding several Level II infractions.

The NCAA's punishment stems from findings that allege a former Blue Demons associate head coach knowingly directed a former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a player. Additionally, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions found the head coach responsible for not stopping or preventing the rules violations, which happened under his watch.

Leitao's suspension will be served for the opening three games of the 2019-20 season. The program's probation will run through 2022. Further penalties in the case include a three-year show-cause order for an unnamed former associate head coach, a vacation of records for the 25 games in the 2016-17 season when the ineligible player competed, a $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men's basketball budget and minor recruiting restrictions.  

The NCAA found during an investigation that the former associate head coach in the case helped the player, unnamed in the findings, by arranging for the former assistant director of basketball operations to live with the prospect after he signed with DePaul. The job of the assistant director of basketball operations at the time was to monitor the recruit's progress and limit his extracurricular activities to ensure tests were taken and his academic benchmarks were met. 

The good news for DePaul: The sit-in worked and the student-athlete met eligibility requirements and subsequently enrolled. 

The bad news for DePaul: Because the arrangement has been deemed an impermissible benefit provided by a member of the Blue Demons staff, the athlete competed while he was ineligible.

"The head coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance because three men's basketball staff members knew about the arrangement but did not report the violation or question whether it was allowable, according to the committee," the NCAA said in its report. "Even more troubling to the committee was the assistant director of basketball operations stated he knew the contact was a violation but did not report it because he did not want to be disloyal, cause tension, get in the way of the associate head coach or otherwise hurt his career. He also did not know how to report violations. The committee said the assistant director of basketball operations was also concerned for his future and did not question the associate head coach's directions. According to the committee, a culture of silence pervaded the program."

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