Tyndall files appeal, seeks to reverse show-cause penalty
Donnie Tyndall has filed an appeal to reverse the 10-year show cause penalty he received from the NCAA in April for violations that occurred while he was coaching Southern Mississippi.
Tyndall confirmed Wednesday he was seeking a ''full overturning or reversal'' of the penalty and that he would take the case to court if the appeal isn't granted.
The NCAA said in April it gave Tyndall the show-cause penalty for orchestrating academic fraud designed to land recruits as well as other misconduct that included trying to cover up payments to athletes and potential evidence. Tyndall was fired as Tennessee's coach in March 2015 due to the possibility the NCAA might penalize him.
Tyndall said he should have received nothing more than a nine-game suspension, the penalties Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and SMU's Larry Brown received after NCAA investigations of their programs.
''I should have never lost my job at Tennessee,'' Tyndall said. ''It should have been just what Jim Boeheim and Larry Brown got. We want a full overturning or reversal of the decision, and that's what it should be.''
The NCAA ruled in its 47-page report in April that Tyndall ''acted unethically and failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he directed his staff to engage in academic misconduct'' while coaching Southern Mississippi from 2012-14.
Southern Mississippi self-imposed a two-year postseason ban that took effect in 2015. The program is under probation until 2020 and will lose four more scholarships over the next three years.
Tyndall's show-cause penalty - which essentially makes him 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.
Tyndall said that much of the NCAA's case depends on the testimony of Adam Howard, a former assistant coach on his staff. He also says Howard had changed his story after originally indicating no knowledge that Tyndall had been involved in academic fraud.
Howard worked with Tyndall's staff at Southern Mississippi and followed him to Tennessee before resigning in November 2014 for what the school described at the time as personal reasons. Howard's departure came less than three weeks after Southern Mississippi announced the NCAA was reviewing its program.
''That's not what our country is about,'' Tyndall said. ''There's nobody who should lose their job and career based on what one person says with no proof or evidence. It's that simple. So I'm going to fight for the next group of coaches. Hopefully they never have to go through something like this.''
Howard didn't immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. Southern Mississippi athletic department spokesman Jack Duggan said the school declined comment on the appeal. Tennessee athletic department spokesman Tom Satkowiak said it wouldn't be appropriate for the university to comment on the matter.
The actual NCAA report filed in April withholds the names of people involved in the investigation. Even Tyndall himself is referred to as a ''former head coach.''
Included in the report were allegations that Tyndall directed members of his staff to complete fraudulent coursework for seven prospects so they could be immediately eligible to compete. The NCAA also said three staff members were told to ''travel to two-year colleges'' to complete the coursework.
According to the report, ''the former head coach also facilitated cash and prepaid credit card payments to two prospects from former coaches.'' The report said that ''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.''
The NCAA report also said Tyndall also deleted emails relevant to the investigation. The report cited phone records indicating Tyndall made call after call to others being interviewed by the NCAA.
Three assistant coaches from Tyndall's Southern Mississippi staff also were penalized in April. One was hit with an eight-year show cause, one has a seven-year penalty and the other was six years.
Tyndall went 56-17 at Southern Mississippi and reached the NIT each of his two seasons at the school before leaving for Tennessee. He went 16-16 in his lone season at Tennessee.