Yesterday the NCAA announced (read the full decision below) that the basketball program at Southern Methodist University had “committed multiple violations, including academic fraud, unethical conduct and head coach control,” and that the head basketball coach “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he did not report violations and was not initially truthful during an interview with NCAA enforcement staff.”
SMU’s head basketball coach, of course, is Larry Brown, six-season coach of the Sixers, who resigned from that position in 2003, rejoined the club as an executive vice president in 2007, and then resigned again in 2008 so he could return to college hoops. He coached the 2001 Sixers team that, led by troubled genius Allen Iverson, went to the NBA finals and was defeated by the Lakers in five games. Michael Powell in today’s New York Times has a deeply snarky take on Brown’s career:
Brown’s continuing problem, he told the investigators, is that he gets all bollixed up when he’s dealing with “people that I really care about.” You could find this touching to listen to, if you severed a cerebral artery.
According to the NCAA, Brown wasn’t directly involved in the athletic department’s misconduct, which involved an assistant coach doing the online coursework that allowed a recruited player to be eligible to enroll. Instead,
Upon learning of the misconduct in 2014, the head basketball coach did not report it to the compliance staff, conference office or enforcement staff for more than a month. When asked by the NCAA enforcement staff about the potential violations, the head basketball coach initially denied having any information about the conversations with the former administrative assistant and student-athlete.
The head basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program. He failed to report the violations when the former administrative assistant committed academic fraud on behalf of the student-athlete and he initially lied to enforcement staff about his knowledge of the potential violations.
This is far from the first NCAA rules infraction for Brown, who won an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and an NCAA title with Kansas in 1988. His programs at UCLA and Kansas were both slapped by the NCAA for violations involving academic fraud and student aid. When SMU hired him, it expressed concern about his ability to work within current NCAA compliance rules. SMU had reason to be wary. Inside Higher Ed has the story of how the school became the “The Incorrigible Institution,” with more major NCAA rules violations — a total of 10 — in past years than any other Division 1 school. It also holds the distinction of being the only college ever awarded the NCAA’s “death penalty” — the shutdown of a team for an entire season — after its football team was found to have been paying student athletes from a slush fund.
The NCAA suspended Brown for nine games. Other sanctions for the hoops program include three years of probation, a post-season ban, scholarship reductions, and the vacating of all wins in which the student participated. SMU has announced it may appeal.
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