Alabama Basketball: Growing confidence several schools face NCAA sanctions

A dozen men’s basketball programs, including Alabama Basketball, may face NCAA problems.

Is the NCAA bringing the hammer down on MBB rules’ violators? Oklahoma State certainly thinks so. Going back to the FBI investigation into college basketball, the Cowboys are being punished for the actions of former, assistant coach, Lamont Evans.

The sanctions include no postseason play in the 2020-21 season, a loss of three scholarships, other recruiting restrictions and a monetary fine. Evans received as 10-year ‘show cause’ penalty.

Oklahoma State announced it will appeal. NCAA enforcement experts give the Cowboys little chance of reversal through appeal. North Carolina State (NCSU) is in the ‘Independent Accountability Resolution Process’ (IARP) and the decisions from that process cannot be appealed. Of interest to Alabama basketball fans is NCSU’s NCAA problems go back to the Wolfpack tenure of Mark Gottfried.

Five other college basketball programs are known to have received a ‘Notice of Allegations’ from the NCAA. They are TCU, Kansas, Louisville, South Carolina and USC. Notices sent to as many as six other schools may follow. The Alabama basketball program is one of the six, going back to the actions of Kobie Baker. Baker received money for trying to steer a player, and possibly future players, to a financial advisor. Alabama basketball acted quickly, self-reporting to the NCAA and accepting Baker’s resignation. If the Crimson Tide is later penalized for Baker’s actions, the punishment should be minimal.

Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, Auburn and LSU are the programs most likely to receive serious sanctions. Oklahoma State was punished for one, Level 1 violation. Kansas has been charged with five. Creighton is another program at risk of sanctions due to actions by an assistant coach.

Kansas, Arizona, Auburn and LSU should the programs at greatest risk from future NCAA sanctions. There is widespread speculation the latter three will join the list of NCAA ‘NOA’ participants next. There have been mixed reports Auburn already has an NOA.

Among college basketball fans, doubt lingers about the NCAA taking strong penalty actions. NCAA enforcement history has long been seen as inconsistent – at best. But the FBI investigation and the ‘Pay for Play’ HBO documentary put pressure on the NCAA. The wording in the Oklahoma State decision indicates the NCAA has accepted that burden.

The conduct at issue in this case was related to a broader scheme that involved money and influence at the intersection of college and professional basketball. The scheme resulted in the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals — including college basketball coaches — on conspiracy and bribery charges, and it led to significant NCAA reforms.

NCAA enforcement expert, Stu Brown said,

The pendulum has swung to where all the punishments are severe. There may be more consistency in the (NCAA) rulings, and the consistency tends to be very severe.

It has been almost a year since we opined NCAA may have found a hammer, after all. The pace of action has been slow. Some suggest COVID added delays to an already time-consuming process. Predicting future NCAA decisions is risky. Still, Sean Miller, Bruce Pearl and Will Wade are probably not sleeping well at night.

Next: LSU has no shame

Kansas, being on the NCAA list, surprised many college basketball fans. ‘Blue-Bloods’ have been believed to be immune from severe NCAA punishment. Maybe no longer. Even Duke is at risk from potential testimony by Zion Williamson, in a lawsuit, filed by his former agent.

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