St. Mary’s Hit With NCAA Sanctions

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2013

Michael Vernetti is the RTC correspondent for the West Coast Conference.

The NCAA investigation into Saint Mary’s recruiting that has been hanging over the college’s head for the past year came to a head Friday with the imposition of some strong, although probably not fatal, penalties. Most importantly, the Gaels will lose two scholarships for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, head coach Randy Bennett must serve a five-game suspension next season and may not recruit off-campus during next season, the Gaels are prohibited from multi-team tournaments until 2015-16 and on-campus skill instruction is prohibited for the next two years. The college was also placed on four years’ probation. The Gaels’ scheduled appearance in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii next December is not affected as it had been scheduled before the penalties were announced.

Tough March News For Bennett Today (Photo credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire).

Tough March News For Bennett Today (Photo credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire).

The Gaels’ troubles stemmed from the activities of a former assistant coach who was not named in the NCAA report but, according to sources close to the investigation, is Keith Moss. Moss was sanctioned by the NCAA for providing impermissible benefits to a potential recruit who was also not named, along with impermissible contact with two other foreign players. Some media sources had speculated that the infractions centered on Saint Mary’s years-long relationship with Australian players and that a former assistant coach from Australia, David Patrick, was the focus of the investigation. That is not the case, as Moss’ infractions dealt solely with athletes he recruited through former relationships in France.

Bennett’s culpability stemmed from the NCAA’s infamous “failure to monitor” dictum, as the body chastised Bennett for not reining in Moss’ activities even though some of them occurred after Moss left the college’s employ in 2009. Bennett was also criticized for not properly supervising on-campus skill instruction conducted at Saint Mary’s during the summers of 2010 and 2011.

“I am disappointed,” Bennett said in a statement. “I cooperated fully with the investigation and accepted responsibility where I came up short. The penalties are clearly excessive and although I’m still reviewing the report and trying to understand it, I know already that the report fails to include important mitigating information and tells only part of the story. I’ll continue to review the report and consider my options.”

Saint Mary’s President Brother Ronald Gallagher also called the penalties “a disappointing day for all of us who care deeply about Saint Mary’s.” He praised Bennett as “an outstanding representative of the college for more than ten years, teaching our young men about much more than basketball.” Bennett, said Brother Ronald, “understands the seriousness of these charges and our high expectations for every member of our community.”

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