Former So. Miss coach Tyndall hit with 10-year show cause
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Donnie Tyndall's career slammed into a brick wall Friday after the NCAA hit the former Southern Mississippi coach with a 10-year show-cause order for orchestrating a breathtaking case of academic fraud designed to land recruits and other misconduct that included trying to cover up payments to athletes and potential evidence in the case.
The school's self-imposed two-year postseason ban was accepted the NCAA, but the program is under probation until 2020 and will lose four more scholarships over the next three years.
The 47-page NCAA report said Tyndall was on the job for just six weeks when he started skirting the rules in order to land prospects.
He ''directed members of his staff to complete fraudulent coursework for seven prospects so they could be immediately eligible to compete,'' the NCAA said. Three staff members were told to ''travel to two-year colleges'' to complete the coursework.
''The former head coach also facilitated cash and prepaid credit card payments to two prospects from former coaches,'' the NCAA said ''One former high school coach mailed the money directly to the former head coach, who would then deliver the money to the student-athlete for university bills.''
Tyndall also instructed a staff member to concoct a document showing the school had approved the payments, and Tyndall also deleted emails relevant to the investigation, the NCAA said. The report cited phone records indicating Tyndall made call after call to others being interviewed by the NCAA.
The NCAA said Tyndall ''acted unethically and failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he directed his staff to engage in academic misconduct.''
In a statement released by his attorney, Tyndall said he was ''stunned and extremely disappointed'' by the NCAA's report.
''From the beginning of this case, I have accepted responsibility for the violations that occurred when I was head coach, but I absolutely reject that the `totality of the information' showed that I participated in the academic misconduct,'' Tyndall said.
Tyndall also said he plans to appeal the ruling.
Southern Miss basketball will likely feel the effects for at least the next few years, but the impact for Tyndall will likely be much longer.
The show-cause order - which essentially makes the 45-year-old unemployable at the NCAA level - runs through April 7, 2026. Even if he is employed after that date, he must sit out 50 percent of his team's first full season.
The NCAA came down hard on Tyndall, who had a 56-17 record over two seasons with the school, including two trips to the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals. He left for Tennessee in 2014, where he was fired after one season after his involvement in the Southern Miss violations came to light.
Tyndall did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Tennessee spokesman Ryan Robinson said the Vols had no comment.
Three former assistant coaches also received severe penalties. One was hit with an eight-year show cause, one has a seven-year penalty and the other was six years. Southern Miss also must vacate all wins in which the ineligible athletes participated and will lose four additional scholarships over the next three seasons.
Southern Miss had been bracing for significant sanctions after the NCAA's notice of allegations released last year. Athletic director Bill McGillis said in a statement that he respected the NCAA's decision and that he's ''pleased that this matter has reached its conclusion and that we can move forward in a positive manner.''
The program has nosedived since the NCAA's investigation became public. Veteran coach Doc Sadler took over the program in 2014 - before he was aware of the sanctions - and the team had a 9-20 record in 2014-15 and an 8-21 mark last season.
''As a result of some of the penalties imposed, we will face some challenges in the near future,'' Sadler said in a statement. ''However, because of our great fan support and our players' commitment, I am very excited about the future and our ability to return our program to a championship level.''
Tyndall also ran afoul of the NCAA when he was coaching at Morehead State in 2010. The program was placed on two years' probation for recruiting violations related to booster activity. The school's self-imposed penalties included the loss of one scholarship and other recruiting restrictions.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this story.
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