NCAA sanctions cast long shadow over Tempe, Tucson

It’s probably time for an update on the latest new ASU v. UofA rivalry… NCAA sanctions.

Arizona State has just admitted two major recruiting violations in its baseball program and announced the self-imposed sanctions and corrective actions that are being taken.  The school submitted its response to NCAA allegations on Monday.

Meanwhile, University of Arizona is coming off a meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, where it tried to defend the self-imposed sanctions on the basketball program that have already been made.

Arizona is somewhat ahead of the process, having taken actions in February that resulted in the elimination of a scholarship for the 2011-12 season and imposed restrictions on recruiting for the next two seasons. (PhxFan article, 2-08-10)

ASU will get its turn with the NCAA later this year.

The Sun Devils’ situation has the potential to be a much bigger problem than what the Cats are facing because it would be a second major NCAA violation in five years, coming on the heels of an NCAA probe into the football program in 2005 that resulted in the school being sanctioned for unethical conduct, benefits that violated NCAA policies, and a lack of institutional control. As a repeat violator, the NCAA sanctions would be much more severe.

In the current case involving the baseball program, ASU is fighting the charge that relates to a lack of institutional control, which is one that carries the heaviest weight.

The self-imposed penalties ASU levied on itself include removing 44 victories from book that occurred in 2007, placing restrictions on recruiting, and reducing the number of scholarships available to the program. (PhxFan article, 2-24-10)

Pat Murphy was the head coach at the time of the infractions.  He was given a letter of reprimand and his recruiting was restricted following an earlier investigation, and then he was removed from the program last November when the NCAA released its allegations.  The self-imposed sanctions do not affect the current team, which is ranked No. 1 nationally.

However, the UofA sanctions are going to effect the current basketball coach because he had to give up a scholarship for next season, reduce the number of coaches he can send out to recruit this summer, and limit the number of official campus visits for his recruits.

That mess began with alleged recruiting violations by former Cats coach, Lute Olson.  It revolves around a letter Olson sent to a booster group, asking for support and financial contributions for a basketball event scheduled to be held on the UofA campus.  That started an investigation by the university and NCAA staff that wound its way through nearly 50 interviews with coaches, administrators, athletes, and others involved in the event.

Both schools now must await the next step in the process, hoping for any kind of silver lining to this dark cloud that hangs over their programs.

UofA expects to get its ruling from the NCAA some time in June.  At that point, they will find out if their sanctions have been approved, or if others will be added.

ASU is expected to get their face time with the Infractions Committee sometime toward the end of the summer, hopefully before August is out.  In the meantime, the NCAA will be poring over the 119-page response presented by the school this week.

In the meantime, ASU baseball continues to rebound from losing a coach that took the program to the College World Series on a regular basis.  And UofA basketball will continue to recruit for next season, with the restrictions left behind from its legendary coach.

And they both wait for the next shoe to drop.