NCAA rejects appeals; no post-season for ASU baseball

The Arizona State baseball team took its appeal to the NCAA into extra innings, but ran out of at-bats this week.  Most of the penalties originally imposed against the program have been upheld.

ASU appealed the post-season ban that had been imposed by the college sports governing body in December of 2010, one of several penalties handed down at the time, and thus were allowed to extend their 2011 season, which ultimately ended with a loss in the Austin Super Regional.

But the appeals committee issued its decision yesterday and one of the results is that it upheld the post-season ban that the Devils dodged last year.  That ban, making them ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, will now be in effect for the coming season.

Last year, the NCAA ruled that Pat Murphy, the Sun Devil head coach for 15 years, failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and he and his staff were responsible for a list of violations from 2004 through 2008.  Murphy ‘resigned’ in 2009, just when the school announced the NCAA investigation.

ASU appealed to the NCAA last year, contesting some of the penalties that were handed down.  The Division I Infractions Appeals Committee announced its findings yesterday, upholding two of the appealed major violations and reducing a third violation from major to secondary.

The violations involved coaching-staff limits, paying student-athletes for work not performed, use of an impermissible recruiter, and a lack of institutional control.

Penalties, including those self-imposed by ASU, include a three-year probation, a ban on post-season competition, reductions in scholarships, vacating 44 wins from the 2007 season, recruiting restrictions, and limitations on coaching activity during practices.

In a release from the NCAA, it explained that ASU had argued that three of the violations were secondary, rather than major.  Secondary violations are those that are isolated or inadvertent, provide only minimal recruiting or competitive advantage, and do not include any significant recruiting inducement or extra impermissible benefit.

ASU had also asserted that the three-year probation and post-season competition ban was excessive.

In a statement issued by ASU Vice President for Athletics Lisa Love, she expressed her disappointment in the findings.  “While we appreciate the committee’s decision to reduce the third violation to secondary status, we are concerned about its decision to uphold the other two,” she said.  “We believe that others who review the case will share our concerns about this outcome.”

The head baseball coach, Tim Esmay, added his own statements to the release, focusing on the road ahead.  “I am glad that this program can finally put an end to this chapter,” he offered.  “This has been a five-year process and now we can move forward and put this behind us.”

Esmay took over the program as interim head coach when Murphy left and compiled a 52-10 record in his first season, was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and took the team to the College World Series.

Even with this dark cloud of indecision hanging over their heads last year, the coaches and players were able to post a 39-16 regular season and then rolled through the regional games, beating New Mexico, Charlotte, and Arkansas before running into Texas in the Super Regional.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)