Missouri’s athletic department will be on probation for a year, but the NCAA essentially rubber-stamped the Tigers’ remaining self-imposed sanctions that stem from a series of infractions committed within the men’s basketball program Tuesday, closing the book a more than two-year long ordeal.
The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions added an additional year of probation — which ends Aug. 1, 2017 — to the sanctions Mizzou imposed in January and publicly reprimanded/censured the program. But the men’s basketball team will not face an additional postseason ban or more scholarship reductions beyond those already announced.
“As responsible members of the SEC and the NCAA, we chose to self-report potential violations of bylaws and self-impose certain sanctions,” Mizzou interim chancellor and interim athletic director Hank Foley said Tuesday in a release. “Today’s release of the Summary of Findings by the NCAA is a clear indication this was a wise decision by the University and allows us to put these issues behind us as we continue to rebuild a top-notch basketball program.”
The Tigers athletic department announced a sweeping series of self-imposed sanctions on Jan. 13. All 23 wins from the 2013-14 season were vacated, MU banned itself from the postseason last season and also stripped itself of two scholarships — one last season and another that must go unfilled before the 2017-18 season.
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Missouri also imposed a series of recruiting restrictions, including a six-week ban from telephonic recruiting to be served during the 2016-17 academic year.
“We certainly talked to a lot of people and looked at a lot of precedents,” former athletic director Mack Rhoades said in April during a meeting with reporters. “We spent a lot of time methodically thinking about the future of the program — how do we best get it on track, how all of this parlays into recruiting, our current roster, APR. There hasn’t been any aspect or component that we haven’t talked about.”
Missouri men’s basketball leaves Friday for a 10-day exhibition tour of Italy under third-year coach Kim Anderson, who was hired several months after the investigation started.
“Through cooperation between NCAA personnel, the University of Missouri and our Mizzou Athletics staff, we are now able to draw this process to a close,” Anderson said in a release. “It has been my desire to move our program forward since learning of what had taken place. My staff and I are fully invested in our student-athletes and helping them achieve their goals on and off the court. Our program will continue to represent the University and the state of Missouri with honor and integrity.”
During the probation period, Mizzou must continue to develop and implement a compliance education program, including a preliminary report on those plans that must be submitted to the Committee on Infractions by Sept. 30.
The athletic department also must follow up with a progress report by June 15, emphasizing rules education for men’s basketball and the compliance staff.
The Tigers also are required to inform prospective student-athletes in writing that the men’s basketball program is on probation and detail the violations committed. The information must be provided before a player can take an official visit or, in the absence of an official visit, prior to the player signing a national letter of intent.
Missouri also is required to publicize information about the probation term on the athletic department’s webpage and in media guides.
The NCAA inquiry began when enforcement staff received a tip about possible violations in Dec. 2013.
Then-Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden received a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA on April 14, 2014 — four days before former coach Frank Haith left for Tulsa.
During the course of a 19-month joint investigation between Missouri and the NCAA, additional violations were uncovered from 2011-14. Among the most serious allegations, two boosters allegedly provided impermissible benefits to players or prospective players, including a Georgia-based internship at which players were paid for work not performed.
The Tigers permanently disassociated from the booster in that instance — identified to The Star as Mark Tuley, the president of T3 Solutions in Martinez, Ga. — barring him from receiving tickets, making donations or representing the university.
According to the NCAA report, Tuley (referred to as “representative 1”) provided $10,436 in impermissible benefits and “made attempts to deceive its athletics compliance staff to avoid detection of the true nature of his ‘internship’ program.”
Tuley allegedly paid four players associated with Mizzou — Jakeenan Gant, Jordan Clarkson, Tony Criswell and Cam Biedscheid — $1,000 each for a no-show internship and also provided housing, cash, transportation, iPads, meals and free gym access.
Those violations, including daily workouts led by a then-Mizzou student manager in violation of NCAA bylaws, are considered Level I infractions, the most serious under the NCAA penalty structure.
Tuley also had impermissible contact with a prospective student-athlete and paid for a meal for a non-scholastic coach, a Level III infraction.
Missouri’s compliance department also was charged with a Level II major infraction for failing to adequately monitor the internship program in the vetting and follow-up process.
Clarkson and Criswell took part in the internship program on Haith’s watch during May 2013, according to the NCAA report, but Gant and Biedscheid’s involvement occurred during May 2014 during Anderson’s first month on the job.
Another booster, identified to The Star as Tan-Tar-A general manager Fred Dehner, allegedly provided $966 in impermissible benefits to 11 student-athletes and three family members of student-athletes at the resort between July 2011 and July 2014.
Dehner — who Missouri agreed to disassociate with for two years along with his wife, according to the NCAA report —arranged for a reduced hotel rate, free meals and a complimentary recreational boat ride, which constitutes a Level II major infraction. Dehner — referred to as “representative 2” — was cooperative with the investigation.
“Coach Haith cooperated fully with the NCAA’s investigation and was not named in or held responsible for any of the violations,” Haith’s attorney, Scott Tompsett, said in a statement provided to The Star. “As the NCAA Infractions Report makes clear, violations happened while Coach Haith was at Mizzou and they continued after Coach Anderson became the head coach. The fact of the matter is that this is not a Frank Haith issue or a Kim Anderson issue; it’s an issue of Mizzou as an institution not adequately monitoring the summer employment arrangement. That’s what the NCAA found and Mizzou agreed.”
When Mizzou announced the investigation and self-imposed sanctions in January, it included a second Level III infraction when former associate head coach Tim Fuller provided Gant’s mother, La’Kenia Gant, with a phone number for Dehner to facilitate housing. The Gants moved to Missouri from Georgia in the spring of 2014, but NCAA enforcement staff withdrew that proposed violation June 20 and it was stricken from the final report.
Since taking over at MU, Anderson is 19-44 in his first two seasons, including back-to-back 3-15 showings in the Southeastern Conference. Alden didn’t inform Anderson about the burgeoning investigation during the interview process, a fact that probably wouldn’t have changed Anderson’s mind but certainly hasn’t helped him improve the program.
“It’s not an excuse,” Rhoades said last spring. “Kim didn’t have to take the job. He decided to take the job, but the reality is he inherited a really tough situation. Unless you walk these halls and understand what that entails every day, it’s hard to put your arms around it.”
Rhoades, who resigned July 13 and will become Baylor’s vice president and director of athletics, inherited the investigation when he took over for Alden in April 2015 and approved the self-imposed sanctions.