By: Andy Humphrey
Missouri Athletics revealed Wednesday that the men’s basketball department committed multiple NCAA violations during Frank Haith’s tenure as Head Coach. In response to the findings, the men’s basketball team was dealt self-imposed penalties, including a one-year postseason ban, the vacation of all wins during the 2013-14 season, and future scholarship losses.
According to a release on the MU Athletics website, an MU Athletics donor provided illegal benefits to three men’s basketball players and one potential recruit by paying them through a summer internship program and additional incentives during the 2013-14 season. Another donor was accused of giving reduced hotel rates, meals, and a ride on a recreational boat to 11 student-athletes.
The release also states that a former associate head coach helped to relocate a player’s family to the Lake of the Ozarks. It is believed that Tim Fuller – who was issued a three-month ban from off-campus recruiting during the review process – is the associate head coach and current sophomore forward Jakeenan Gant – who served a nine-game suspension for NCAA violations last season – is the player referred to in the release.
As a result, the athletic department issued itself numerous penalties for the violations. The team will not participate in any postseason tournaments – including the SEC tournament – at the end of this season. It will also vacate all wins earned during the 2013-14 season, when the Tigers went 23-12 overall and made it to the second round of the NIT. The team also forfeited one men’s basketball scholarship for this season and will forfeit another by the end of the 2017-18 season. MU also self-imposed recruiting violations starting last season and continuing into the 2016-17 season. Finally, the university will pay the NCAA a fine of $5,000.
“We have faced these issues head-on and have worked collaboratively with the NCAA on certainly the facts and the violations,” said MU Athletic Director Mack Rhoades, who did not open up to questions from the media after his opening comments Wednesday. “These are not decisions we took lightly. When we looked at the self-imposed penalties, we really felt like that was the right thing to do.”
LISTEN: FULL AUDIO OF RHOADES/ANDERSON PRESS CONFERENCE:
Rhoades said that he was made aware of the NCAA investigation when he took the AD position in March 2015, but Kim Anderson said he was not told about it when he took over as Head Coach in 2014.
“I agreed with Mack Rhoades on this decision to self-impose, but I don’t necessarily like it,” said Anderson. “But it’s something that we felt like it was best to do it now and move forward and put it behind us.”
Anderson said the investigation did not affect his decision to stay at his current position. He also declined to comment on whether the decision to release Fuller as an assistant coach had anything to do with the investigation.
The release says the NCAA gave MU a verbal notice on April 14, 2014 that it would be investigating potential violations. Four days later, Frank Haith left MU to take the head-coaching job at Tulsa.
Shortly after the announcement, Tulsa Athletic Director Derrick Gragg said in a statement that Frank Haith “has cooperated fully with the NCAA during this process and has not been accused of any wrongdoing during his tenure at Missouri.”
Later on Wednesday, Haith said in a statement, “I appreciate the thoroughness of the NCAA during this process. I echo the sentiments of Missouri’s Kim Anderson in expressing disappointment that the actions of a few individuals have put the Tiger basketball program in this situation.”
Forward Ryan Rosburg, the lone senior on the team, said he was disappointed by the penalties that will prevent him from playing any more games past the end of this regular season. “It hurts because it feels like I’m being punished the most, and I wasn’t involved.”
It is not clear whether or not the NCAA will impose additional penalties on top of the ones MU issued to itself.
The men’s basketball team, currently 8-8 overall and 1-2 in SEC play, has 15 games remaining in its 2015-16 season. They will travel to Columbia, S.C. Saturday to face the No. 19 Gamecocks at 12 p.m.