Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NCAA Hands SMU Postseason Ban in 2016, Suspends Larry Brown 9 Games
Saying that SMU “committed multiple violations,” the NCAA handed the school a postseason ban in 2016 and suspended 75-year-old Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown for 30 percent of the team’s games this season.
Brown must also vacate some of his wins from last season and faces a two-year show cause penalty from Sept. 29, 2015, through Sept. 28, 2017 that will require him to attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar during each year of the show-cause period.
The NCAA also hit SMU with recruiting penalties, including the loss of nine scholarships across three seasons. The program also can’t host recruits for unofficial visits for 13 weeks in the summer of 2016 and will lose 20 off-campus recruiting days.
“The NCAA has now spoken,” Brown said in a statement. “I am overwhelmingly disappointed for our players and the SMU community that the NCAA has decided to punish them as a result of the unfortunate actions of one staff member who provided inappropriate help to one of our players. I remain proud of our entire program and our unwavering dedication to doing things the right way. Our compliance program is second to none. The NCAA’s new Rules dictate that as Head Coach, I am responsible for every member of the basketball staff. I accept that responsibility but I do not accept the appropriateness of the punishment. I could not ask for a better or more dedicated group of men or women. We will move forward together to make the SMU community proud.”
Both Brown and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim — two of college basketball’s biggest names — will face nine-game suspensions this season because of NCAA penalties.
“Southern Methodist University committed multiple violations, including academic fraud, unethical conduct and head coach control in the men’s basketball program and recruiting and unethical conduct in the men’s golf program, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel,” the NCAA statement reads.
“As a result, the former head men’s golf coach, the former compliance director and a former men’s basketball administrative assistant violated NCAA’s unethical conduct rules.
“Additionally, the head men’s basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he did not report violations and was not initially truthful during an interview with NCAA enforcement staff.
“Penalties in this case include three years of probation; a postseason ban for the men’s basketball and golf teams; scholarship reductions; recruiting restrictions; a vacation of certain men’s basketball wins; the disassociation of a booster; and a suspension of 30 percent of the men’s basketball season for the head coach.
In a phone interview with SNY.tv in July, Brown said he’s unable to comment on the current case but that he was not involved when his teams at UCLA and Kansas were hit with sanctions in the 1980s.
“We’re not allowed to comment on any of the NCAA stuff,” Brown said. “I will comment on the thing about UCLA, I wasn’t even involved in that and everybody knows that and yet they keep printing it. And they asked to hire me in 1988 again so I think that’s pretty cut and dry. That investigation went on long before I got the job at UCLA.
“And then the Kansas situation, my Chancellor at Kansas recommended me for the Princeton job and helped me in the Stanford opportunity so if I was sanctioned for doing anything wrong at all, I don’t think Stanford would’ve offered me the job or anything like that.”
He added: “Even here, why would they hire me here [at SMU] if there was any things hanging over my head?”
According to the initial Yahoo! report, the NCAA alleged former SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi and a basketball secretary helped former SMU guard Keith Frazier with his course work during his time there from 2013-15. Frazier was declared academically ineligible in January and Maligi took an indefinite leave of absence from the program at about that time.
“The head basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program,” the NCAA wrote. “He failed to report the violations when the former administrative assistant committed academic fraud on behalf of the student-athlete and he initially lied to enforcement staff about his knowledge of the potential violations.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.