NCAA Basketball: Move on Mark Gottfried shows head coaches can’t hide


The NCAA basketball investigation is clearly following the FBI investigation into the game. Announced violations against Mark Gottfried and North Carolina State signal a change in enforcement policy.

Change is coming slowly to NCAA basketball. It is moving slowly, but there is movement. North Carolina State (NCSU) and former Alabama basketball coach Mark Gottfried have been charged with Level 1 violations by the NCAA.

The violations are explained below but more importantly is the message being sent by the NCAA. The NCAA is not going to let the rules-breaking uncovered in the FBI investigation go unpunished. In addition to standard penalty responses, the NCAA is flexing the muscle of a new rule.

The new rule is aimed at head coaches who use being unaware of staff or assistant coach violations as a defense. The claim of ‘being unaware’ can no longer be used as a defense by head coaches. Mark Gottfried is the first one caught in the crosshairs. He is not expected to be the last.

Yahoo Sports summarized the implications of the recent NCAA action.

"In broader terms, this also could signal an effort by the NCAA to pin responsibility on those who have proven to be the most evasive of targets in cheating scandals — the head coaches."

What happened at NCSU is $40,000 of Adidas cash was funneled to NCSU assistant coach Orlando Early, to be used to entice former NCSU star, Dennis Smith Jr. to sign with the Wolfpack. Again, from Yahoo,

"The NCAA alleges that Early “violated the principles of ethical conduct” by providing $46,700 in improper inducements to people close to Smith, most of that sum coming in the $40,000 payment from Adidas bag man Gassnola."

As a result of the FBI investigation into NCAA basketball, Gassnola pled guilty to wire fraud. He also testified to the actions alleged in the above NCAA claim.

There is a long way to go before the NCAA will levy punishment. The NCAA process is slow and no penalties against Early, Gottfried or NCSU will be imposed before sometime in 2020. But the latest news must have other head coaches worried. Auburn’s Bruce Pearl is one who cannot defend himself by saying he did not know what his assistant Chuck Person did. Auburn and Pearl must rely on the hope that Person’s actions, while criminal, did not include NCAA violations applicable to the Auburn program.

Other schools and head coaches appear to have even less defensible positions. The NCAA is expected to follow the NCSU announcement with released allegations against several more schools. The most probable are Kansas, Creighton, LSU, Louisville and Arizona. Yahoo includes a broader list of schools at risk as Auburn, Oklahoma State, TCU, South Carolina, USC and Clemson.

Next. New NCAA Enforcement to be tested. dark

Can and will the NCAA take enough, strong action to clean up NCAA basketball? The only current answers are maybe and hopefully.