Comparing the Miami and St. Mary’s infractions

People will complain about everything the NCAA does. I get that. It’s like politics. If another party does something – even if it’s something you believe in – then you find a way to be against it. And since almost everyone agrees that the NCAA is a sprawling bureaucracy straight out of Joseph Heller (even if they don’t know who Joseph Heller is), it’s both a) exceptionally easy to criticize the NCAA, and b) exceptionally difficult to do it in a meaningful way.

I’m no stranger to complaining about the NCAA. But I don’t complain just to complain. I complain because I’m more of a basketball fan than a football fan. Here’s what I mean. The football schools – the BCS football schools – are the big money makers. For the NCAA to crack down on them a coach pretty much needs to be caught in the act of snuffing a hooker. But lots of basketball teams are much smaller, lower revenue schools. And the perception amongst us basketball junkies has always been that the NCAA comes down much harder on small schools than big schools. This gives the NCAA (again, just a perception) something to point to when they want to show how tough on crime they are.

But is this true?

Luckily, thanks to Saint Mary’s and Miami, we can now test this theory. Both schools had investigations which paralleled each other, with the Gaels findings coming down slightly sooner than the Canes findings. Both cases began in 2009, and both were resolved in 2013. (On a tangent, only one case involved Andy Katz writing scathingly about the program on multiple occasions, and then not apologizing once all of his allegations turned out to be completely false – which is the answer to the trivia question “why do all Saint Mary’s fans absolutely despise Andy Katz?”)

So here is what I’m proposing. The NCAA released infractions reports for both cases in which they outline in detail the Findings of Facts. These “facts” may or not be true (it’s not a court of law) but it is what the NCAA safely assumed to be true and used as a basis for doling out punishments. I’ve combed through those combined 137 pages of reports so that you don’t have to. And here I’ll summarize their findings, and then list their punishments. Whether or not they are equally punished is for you to decide.

If you do want to read them, you can find Saint Mary’s here, and Miami’s here.

Infractions: Saint Mary’s

1. An assistant coach (not named in the report, but it was Keith Moss) received a call that a French basketball prospect could not find a ride to take his SAT exam. Moss, who is closely connected to French basketball through his prior academy work, makes a call to secure the player a ride. This player is not being recruited by Saint Mary’s, nor is he ever interviewed by the NCAA.

2. Keith Moss, who is now director of basketball operations (and therefore unable to recruit off campus), arranges for a Sacramento, CA area family to take on Remi Barry, a French high school player looking for exposure in the US. Moss is fired by SMC within days. Later, Randy Bennett (the Saint Mary’s head coach) has contact with Barry, but never offers him a scholarship. Keith Moss brings Barry to open workouts for Saint Mary’s, and to one game where they receive complementary tickets. The CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) rules that the placement of Barry was against their rules, which triggers the NCAA’s involvement.

3. In summer, 2010, “several” of the Saint Mary’s basketball team members worked out with a private trainer. This is legal, but it was discovered that more than one of the team members failed to pay the $100 fee to the trainer prior to the first workout (illegal). They all paid before the workouts ended.

4. In summer, 2010, a fitness trainer who was properly registered as a volunteer at Saint Mary’s arranges morning cardio workouts for 8 players. Head coach Randy Bennett is aware of these workouts.

Infractions: Miami

1. Miami assistant coaches arranged for a booster (Nevin Shapiro) to entertain the coaches of Miami recruiting targets. This included a visit to Shapiro’s home and to nightclubs where Shapiro picked up the tab.

2. Nevin Shapiro gave $6,000 cash to a Miami assistant coach when the coach complained about his bills.

3. An assistant coach purchased airplane tickets (using frequent flier points) for a recruit and his coach, as well as the mother of another recruit.

4. The Miami head coach (Frank Haith) helped his assistants pay Shapiro $10,000 dollars when Shapiro threatened to go public with a list of Miami infractions. His assistant coaches had reported to Haith the nature of Shapiro’s threats, and his exact demands. Haith paid them in $3,200 dollar chunks arranged to appear to be payments for coaching camps.

Cooperation: Saint Mary’s

All Saint Mary’s staff were found to have cooperated fully.

Cooperation: Miami

Miami staff, including the head coach, were found to have repeatedly lied and altered stories in order to obstruct the investigation.

Penalties: Saint Mary’s

1. Head coach Randy Bennett is suspended for five games during the 2013-14 season. However, the penalty does not kick in until conference season begins. The games Bennett is suspended for include conference favorite Gonzaga, and rival Santa Clara.

2. Head coach Randy Bennett’s self-imposed ban from recruiting off campus in 2012-13, is extended through 2013-14.

3. Saint Mary’s is penalized two scholarships for a 3-year period.

4. Saint Mary’s is banned from in-season tournaments until 2015-16.

5. Saint Mary’s is banned from overseas trips until 2017-18.

Penalties: Miami

1. Head coach Frank Haith (now at Missouri) is banned for the first five games of the 2013-14 season. The games Haith is suspended for include Southeastern Louisiana, Gardner-Webb, and IUPUI.

2. Miami is penalized one scholarship for a 3-year period.

3. Head coach Frank Haith must attend a rule seminar following the 2013-14 season.