Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — Tuesday night, the Missouri men’s basketball team suffered its worst home loss in nearly 50 years.
Wednesday, things got worse.
The program committed five NCAA infractions — including three major infractions — from 2011-14 during former coach Frank Haith’s tenure, the athletics department admitted in a release Wednesday.
As a result of a 19-month review, Missouri has self-imposed sanctions that include vacating the 23 wins in the 2013-14 season, a ban on postseason play this season and loss of two scholarships.
“I agreed with (director of athletics) Mack Rhoades on this decision to self-impose, but I don’t necessarily like it,” head coach Kim Anderson said. “Just because of the impact it has on student-athletes — our current student-athletes — and they’re the ones that are most affected. But given the circumstances, I, we, all of us felt like we needed to take this responsibility, self-impose and then move forward as quickly as possible.”
The violations included one of the “Level I” variety, two considered “Level II” infractions and two at “Level III.” Levels I and II are considered to be major infractions.
The violations pertained to a former associate head coach, presumably Tim Fuller, who was the team’s only associate head coach during the seasons in question. No current staff members were found to be aware of the violations, the statement said.
The violations took place during Haith’s three seasons (2011-14) at Missouri, but the release made no mention of a former head coach being involved in the violations.
Haith left in 2014 to coach at Tulsa, and the Tulsa World reported Wednesday that Haith was informed of the investigation in February 2015 and he “cooperated fully with the investigation,” according to a statement released through Haith’s lawyer.
The violations were also committed by two donors or “representatives,” one of whom gave improper benefits to players, most notably through a summer internship program that improperly compensated three athletes and one potential Missouri athlete.
“Representative No. 2” provided “impermissible benefits” to 11 players and three family members, among other violations.
“I’m disappointed that the action of a few individuals have put our program in this type of situation,” Anderson said.
The NCAA received notice of potential violations involving a former Missouri player in December 2013. Missouri was given a verbal notice of inquiry on April 14, 2014, three days before it was first reported Haith was to leave Missouri for the Tulsa job.
The review, which found additional violations dating back to 2011, was conducted with the counsel of Mike Glazier of Bond, Schoeneck & King Attorneys.
Rhoades said he was made aware of the investigation when he was interviewed for the position as Missouri’s director of athletics, which he assumed in April 2015. Anderson, who was named head Missouri’s coach April 28, 2014, said he was not aware of the investigation when he accepted the job, but that it would not have affected his decision to coach his alma mater.
Rhoades and Anderson spoke with media Wednesday. Rhoades did not answer questions and Anderson would not answer questions specifically related to the review.
“We have faced this issue head-on and have worked collaboratively with the NCAA on, certainly, the facts and the violations,” Rhoades said. “And as such, the NCAA credited us with exemplary cooperation. That is not a distinction that’s … regularly afforded to institutions in major infractions cases.”
Though an invitation to a postseason tournament was unlikely for the 8-8 Tigers, who went 9-23 in Anderson’s first season, Missouri will miss the Southeastern Conference Tournament, which typically includes all 14 teams in the conference.
Missouri will also forgo any postseason tournament winnings shared by SEC schools.
The Tigers vacate their wins from the 2013-14 season, in which Missouri went 23-12 (9-9 in the Southeastern Conference) and won one National Invitation Tournament game in Haith’s final year. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, Missouri finished a combined 53-16 under Haith.
Recruiting restrictions are also included in Missouri’s self-sanction. The former associate head coach was not able to recruit off-campus for a three-month period, the statement said. Fuller left Missouri after the 2014-15 season, and Anderson would not comment on whether the review was related to Missouri not keeping him on staff.
Further recruiting restrictions are in place through the 2016-17 season — as they have been since 2014-15, the statement said — but Missouri refused to elaborate what the restrictions are.
Missouri also “permanently disassociated” the donor involved with summer internship and prohibited the other unnamed donor from receiving tickets, making donations or representing the school for two years.
Missouri self-imposed one fewer scholarship for the current season, so with transfer Martavian Payne choosing to focus on studies instead of basketball, the Tigers currently have 11 scholarship players on their roster. Just one, Ryan Rosburg, will leave due to graduation. Missouri’s 2016 recruiting class has three members, whom Anderson said he has contacted.
An additional scholarship will be forfeited by the 2017-18 season, at the latest. Anderson said he doesn’t expect recruiting to suffer from the penalties.
“Does it make it a little more difficult? Yeah, it makes it more difficult, but I don’t think it will affect recruiting,” he said. “This is a great school. Obviously, we’re a basketball program that’s rebuilding, and so hopefully prospective student-athletes will realize that.”
The NCAA is aware of Missouri’s self-imposed penalties, Rhoades said. Missouri also paid the NCAA a fine of $5,000.
Tuesday, Missouri lost to Arkansas and Mike Anderson — who coached Missouri before Haith — by 33 points, to worst loss at home since 1957. Kim Anderson said he met with the players Wednesday to break the news of the self-imposed sanctions.
“Our program will persevere through great leadership,” Anderson said. “We’ve got great guidance from Mack and our staff. I think the future of this program is predicated on representing the university with the utmost class, honor and integrity.”
Rosburg and freshmen Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips also met with media Wednesday.
“Of course, everybody is pretty disappointed with the news today,” Puryear said, “but as a basketball team, we’re going to stay together and move on. We still have a lot of season left, so we’re going to continue playing and never give up.”