Report: NCAA's Syracuse probe examined connection with YMCA

Monday November 17th, 2014

The NCAA's active investigation into potential violations at Syracuse University examined the deployment of Syracuse athletes as interns at an Oneida, N.Y., YMCA, according to The Syracuse Post-Standard

The NCAA also inquired about the nature of a former Y employee's relationship with the athletic program, according to the report. The employee, who allegedly misused around $350,000 of YMCA funds during his time with the organization, had special access to the Orange men's basketball program, The Post-Standard reports. 

The school is currently awaiting its fate from the NCAA for violations that it said occurred "years ago," save for infractions from 2010-12. The NCAA completed its investigation in October. 

The men's basketball and football programs at Syracuse have been the focus of the NCAA's investigation. According to the report, basketball player Fab Melo's academics comprise the core of alleged misdeeds from 2010-12. 

Despite its location roughly 30 miles from Syracuse's campus, the Tri-Valley YMCA has maintained close ties over the years with Syracuse University, according to the report. 

The YMCA's connection to the probe involves the potential misrepresentation of players' contributions to the organization as interns, according to The Post-Standard. Students attempting to graduate from Syracuse's Child and Family Studies program -- a popular major of choice for athletes, the report notes -- are required to complete the internship. But the NCAA's investigation examined whether internship hours were not properly monitored. 

Tri-Valley YMCA CEO Hank Leo testified at an October hearing convened by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Leo, who formerly tutored Syracuse football players, is at the center of the Y's alleged involvement in Syracuse's potential violations. Syracuse disaffiliated itself with Leo in 2008. 

The NCAA's investigators also asked whether former sports director of the Tri-Valley YMCA Jeff Cornish -- the employee who misused around $350,000 -- gave improper benefits to football and men's basketball players, the report says. NCAA investigators have also inquired whether Cornish made payments to several athletes. 

The YMCA sued Cornish in 2008 for accounting fraud and unjust enrichment, alleging that he funneled nearly $350,000 from the Y's funds for his own benefit, according to The Post-Standard

- Stanley Kay

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