NCAA expands on St. Mary’s self-imposed penalties

The Remi Barry story broke in January, 2010. 38 months later, the NCAA finally responded (though the "official" investigation has been much shorter). The typical NCAA bureaucracy gave the Gaels plenty of time to prep, and it appears that their self-imposed penalties were largely accepted.

St. Mary's had already reduced their scholarships as they are on the hook for 11 next season. But the scholarship limits imposed by the NCAA (from 13 to 11) do not begin until the following season. St. Mary's had also already limited coaches to on-campus recruiting, and the NCAA held them to that for next year.

Where the NCAA expanded the penalties was with no pre-season or holiday tournaments (St. Mary's would have played in the Diamond Head Classic next season) and with Coach Bennett's five-game suspension which will be served during next season's conference play. UPDATE: The full release states that 2013-14 Tourneys can still be played, if already scheduled.

It should also be noted that the full report is 35 pages, and left out of the 1-page memo on the report is the fact that the only portion officially challenged by Coach Bennett is that he failed to monitor the former assistant coach. "The head coach substantially agreed with the violations associated with him, with one exception; that he failed to monitor the impermissible recruiting activity of the former assistant coach."

The other important note is that this is somehow related to (as reported by Andy Katz for the past year) former assitant David Patrick and his connections to Australian players. In reality, this was three French players who were never offered scholarships.

Here is the letter from the St. Mary's president, sent after the NCAA released their information.

March 1, 2013

Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,

Throughout my eight years leading this outstanding institution, I have witnessed the power of our community in our incredible achievements in academics, the arts, social justice and athletics. On the fields and courts, our staff and student-athletes have provided us with many wonderful moments and in turn, it is my hope that we have delivered a life-changing experience for all of our young men and women.

However, as some of you may know, our men's basketball program has been the subject of a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation for more than two years, reviewing allegations that NCAA rules and regulations were violated by members of our staff. Throughout the inquiry, our institution cooperated fully with the NCAA staff and, in fact, jointly conducted many aspects of the investigation, including the interviewing of witnesses. After we received a Notice of Allegations last year, we filed our response and appeared before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in December. Today, the institution received the Committee's final report, including penalties.

Among the findings by the Committee: impermissible benefits and recruiting conduct by a former assistant men's basketball coach; impermissible off-season training sessions for our student-athletes; and, perhaps most serious, charges of a "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance" and a "failure to monitor" leveled against Head Coach Randy Bennett. In anticipation of likely sanctions, the institution self-imposed many penalties, including reducing the number of scholarships in future years for men's basketball and restricting coaches from off-campus recruiting. The Committee on Infractions accepted those penalties, but added additional scholarship and recruiting restrictions, a five-game suspension for Coach Bennett, to be served at the start of West Coast Conference play in 2013-2014, and a period of four years of probation for our athletic department, among other sanctions.

College leadership has decided to accept the findings of the report, but will consider seeking an appeal on the penalties.

Our institution was founded on the principles of integrity, justice and Catholic values and any challenges to those ideals will not be tolerated. The College has already taken many actions to enhance our compliance program and oversight and I am confident in our policies and procedures moving forward. I have confidence in our entire staff's commitment to our values.

Coach Bennett has been an outstanding representative of the College for more than 10 years, teaching our young men about much more than basketball. However, he understands the seriousness of these charges and our high expectations of every member of our community.

This is certainly a disappointing day for all of us who care so deeply about Saint Mary's. As an alumnus, professor and now President, this is especially difficult for me. But we should also hold our heads high, as we have acted in good faith, sought out the truth and then took the appropriate corrective actions. We, like any institution, are not perfect, but we are now stronger.

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC