Syracuse Self-Imposes NCAA Tournament Ban After Academic, Drug Violations

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Syracuse University has imposed a postseason ban on its men’s basketball team this season due to an NCAA investigation into alleged academic misconduct and drug violations by the team. This will cause the team to miss the NCAA tournament, the ACC tournament and the NIT this year.

“I am very disappointed that our basketball team will miss the opportunity to play in the postseason this year,” coach Jim Boeheim said in a news release. “However, I supported this decision and I believe the University is doing the right thing by acknowledging that past mistakes occurred.”

The case was opened by Syracuse University itself in 2007 when the school became concerned about possible violations by the athletics department.  Just this week, school officials reported that none of the conduct being investigated occurred after 2012, and the misconduct does not involve any current student athletes.

“We are all tremendously disappointed that we are going to miss out on playing in the postseason based on issues that do not involve us,” team captains Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije said.

The ACC will feature 14 teams this year instead of 15.  While Syracuse will not participate in the tournament this year, the team will be involved in any tiebreakers for determining seeding.

According to school officials, the school had reported possible drug violations by former athletes in 2012 and an investigation would be on-going.  The investigation also looked into allegations that Boeheim and the school ignored the school’s drug policy by letting the players participate in practice and games.

SU lawyers also interviewed people concerning an internship program out of the Department of Child and Family Studies.

Potential violations that took place between 2010 and 2012 may include the academic record of basketball center Fab Melo.

Older violations possibly include the improper documentation of internship hours completed by athletes at the Tri-Valley YMCA in Oneida, as well as who was responsible for logging those hours.

The internships were part of a degree program for Child and Family Studies.  The major was popular among student athletes.  University records show 18% of student athletes enrolled in the program in the 2004-05 school year.

The Oneida YMCA’s chief executive officer, Hank Leo, who was also the tutor for the football program, appeared at the NCAA hearing.  SU lawyers were asking witnesses about student interactions with Jeffrey Cornish, the Oneida Y’s former sports director.  The lawyers were trying to decipher whether or not Cornish had given checks to SU students out of an account he was in charge of.  However, it is unclear whether or not those payments were an NCAA violation.

It has not been made clear whether any of the money was used, or given to any athletes at Syracuse University, reports John O’Brien for Syracuse.com.

The self-imposed ban does not mean the NCAA will be releasing the results of its 10-year investigation into possible violations.  It remains unknown when this will happen.