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Saint Mary's coach Bennett gets 5-game suspension

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett has been hit with a five-game suspension, which will begin Dec. 30.

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) -- Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett must serve a five-game suspension and won't be allowed to recruit off campus this season as the NCAA has upheld penalties against the successful mid-major program for recruiting violations.

In making the announcement Monday from the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, the athletics governing body denied Bennett's appeal that included the claim of a procedural error involved. The school said Bennett's penalty would begin on Dec. 30 at midnight for five games, including one non-conference contest.

In March, the NCAA put Saint Mary's on four years of probation for a "failure to monitor its men's basketball program," reducing scholarships by two for the 2014-15 and 15-16 seasons.

"While the College is disappointed with the decision, we respect the NCAA appeals process and will comply fully with the penalties given to our athletics program," the school said. "Saint Mary's remains committed to excellence in its athletic programs, compliance with NCAA rules and the college's proud tradition of providing our students with positive, life-changing experiences. We look forward to the upcoming men's basketball season and continuing the important work of educating and developing our talented student-athletes."

Saint Mary's will still be allowed to participate in the league tournament and the NCAA tournament but can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments not already contractually obligated to attend.

The Gaels, seeded 11th, lost 54-52 to sixth-seeded Memphis in this year's NCAA tournament and finished the season 28-7.

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