Missouri admits NCAA violations, vacates 2013-14 season
The University of Missouri admitted NCAA violations in its men's basketball program dating to 2011 and banned itself Wednesday from the postseason this year and vacated all 23 wins from the 2013-14 season.
The NCAA is still investigating and Missouri said it was working with the organization in hopes of limiting the punishment to its self-imposed sanctions, which includes the SEC tournament.
''We have faced this issue head-on,'' athletic director Mack Rhoades said. ''These are not decisions we took lightly. We really felt like it was the right thing to do, and it will help put us in position to move this program forward.''
Missouri was 23-12 in 2013-14, Frank Haith's final season. Haith left for Tulsa not long after the school received a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA in April 2014.
The Tigers won just nine games last season under new coach Kim Anderson and are 8-8 this season, coming off the worst loss in Mizzou Arena history - a 94-61 setback to Arkansas on Tuesday that Anderson said made him ''embarrassed.''
''A lot of things run through your head,'' Anderson said. ''I'm disappointed that the actions of a few individuals have put our program in this type of situation.''
Anderson said he wasn't aware of the investigation when he was hired and felt bad for forward Ryan Rosburg, the lone senior on the team. Rhoades said he was aware last March when he replaced AD Mike Alden and said he has ''worked extensively from Day 1 to resolve this.''
The school hopes the issue will be resolved this spring.
''Every kid's goal is to go the NCAA Tournament, so obviously when that's taken away there's disappointment,'' Anderson said. ''I think we did the right thing. We felt like it was best to do it now and then move forward and put it behind us.''
Haith was suspended for five games by the NCAA at the start of the 2013-14 season for inadequately monitoring former assistants interactions with a disgraced Miami booster and then trying to cover up a five-figure hush money payment to keep potential violations hidden.
The investigation found that Haith and Miami assistant coach Jake Morton paid Nevin Shapiro $10,000 after he threatened to expose previous improper contact with high school recruits and amateur coaches.
Haith's attorney, Scott Tompsett, said his client did not learn about the NCAA investigation last February when the NCAA contacted Tulsa to inform the school of it. Tompsett said Haith cooperated fully with the NCAA and has been informed that he will not be charged with any violations or wrongdoing.
''It has been Coach Haith's position throughout this investigation that he acted appropriately at all times and that he monitored his program and promoted an atmosphere of compliance,'' Tompsett said. ''The fact that the enforcement staff has not charged Coach Haith with any violations validates our position.''
The Tigers didn't practice Wednesday and Anderson said he told players to ''reset your goals.'' He also said there was no need to ''sugarcoat'' the message.
''Who knows whether we would qualify for the postseason?'' Anderson said. ''Today, I would say I don't know.''
Besides the postseason ban, the school has stripped itself of one scholarship this season and a second scholarship no later than the 2017-18 season, plus has restricted recruiting through 2016-17. It also said it would pay a $5,000 fine.
The school permanently banned one unidentified donor who the NCAA said provided impermissible benefits to three players and one recruit in 2013-14. The benefits included compensation for work not done at a business through a summer intern program, along with housing, $520 cash, local transportation, iPads, meals and use of a local gym.
''It is clear from our collaborative investigation with the NCAA that a former member of our athletics staff and members of our donor community violated NCAA bylaws, and we take those actions seriously,'' Chancellor Hank Foley said.
A second donor has been banned for two years after providing 11 players and three members of one player's family reduced rates at a hotel along with meals and a ride on a recreational boat. A student manager also provided transportation for multiple players to the hotel from the campus.
The school was hit with a third major infraction for failing to adequately monitor the internship program.
Two minor infractions were cited. A former associate head coach helped a recruit relocate by providing the phone number of the recruit's mother to the second donor to arrange for rental housing, and the first donor had multiple impermissible contacts with a recruit.
The school said there is no evidence that any current staff members were aware of the violations.
Anderson said he didn't think the self-imposed penalties would impact recruiting, then added, ''Yeah, it makes it more difficult.''
''This is a great school,'' Anderson said. ''Obviously, we're a program that's rebuilding. The interest level in our program has been very good.''