The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team is banned from postseason play for the 2016-17 season and is subject to further scholarship reductions for two years, the NCAA announced today.
The sanctions, which the Rainbow Warriors thought they had avoided with self-imposed measures earlier this year, were among those handed down by the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions in the 26-month case.
Meanwhile, Gib Arnold, who UH fired as its head coach Oct. 28, 2014 in the wake of the NCAA investigation, received the equivalent of a 10-game ban with a 30 percent suspension if he seeks to coach at an NCAA-member institution between Dec. 22, 2015 and Dec. 21, 2018. The NCAA report did not name Arnold but he was referred to as “a former UH-Manoa men’s basketball coach.”
However, the penalty is likely moot since he is working in the NBA as a scout for the Boston Celtics.
The post-season ban means that current UH players who are juniors would be free to transfer to another school after this season without having to sit out a year, the NCAA said.
According to an NCAA spokewoman, “The rule applies if a student-athlete’s last year of eligibility is the 2016-17 season. If it is the student-athlete’s last season of eligibility, he can transfer without sitting out a year because his last season of competition is affected by the postseason ban.”
Current players Aaron Valdes, Stefan Jankovic, Stefan Jovanovic, Mike Thomas are among those who would be eligible to transfer penlty-free.
“We got crushed,” said a UH figure not authorized to speak publicly. UH has yet to officially comment on the sanctions or said if it will appeal.
But Arnold claimed “vindication” since he was not found guilty of any Level I (the most serious) violations, according to his attorney James Bickerton.
The NCAA also sanctioned “a former assistant” believed to be Brandyn Akana with a two-year show cause order.
Valdes greeted the sanctions on Twitter with: “We still got a season to play and a NCAA tourney to make This year we just have to stay focused. Either you’re with us or against us.”
UH and Arnold appeared before the committee in Dallas in October, nine months after the NCAA Enforcement staff charged the program with seven violations of the association’s rules.
At the time, the allegations included three Level I violations and four from Level II, the most severe of the four levels. But in today’s announcement, the Committee on Infractions reduced the case to the overall Level II, it said.
The NCAA placed blame both on the UH coaching staff and the athletic department’s compliance office saying, “the case provides a cautionary tale regarding the interaction between coaching staffs and institutional compliance office. The relationship between the former head men’s basketball coach and the director of compliance at this institution was tense to the point of being nearly dysfunctional. Communication between the two was poor and overshadowed by an ongoing personality conflict. Had they worked more collaboratively in their dealings, at least some of the violations in this case would likely not have occurred.”
Amanda Paterson was the compliance director at the time and attanded the NCAA hearing. This week her promotion to an assistant athletic director position was announced.
Penalties and corrective actions imposed by the panel include:
- A three-year probation period from Dec. 22, 2015, through Dec. 21, 2018.
- A three-year show-cause order for the former head coach from Dec. 22, 2015, through Dec. 21, 2018. If the former coach seeks employment at an NCAA member school, he must be suspended from all coaching duties for the first 30 percent of the season, not counting exhibition games. He must also attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar during each year he is employed by an NCAA school during the show-cause period.
- A two-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach from Dec. 22, 2015, through Dec. 21, 2017. If he seeks employment at an NCAA member school, both the school and coach must appear before the committee to detail why his athletic duties should not be restricted.
- A reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by two for a total of 11 during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The university may receive credit towards the scholarship reduction for its self-imposed one scholarship reduction for the 2016-17 season.
- A 2016-17 postseason ban for the men’s basketball program.
- A vacation of wins in which the men’s basketball student-athletes participated while ineligible. The university will identify the games impacted following the release of the public report.
- A prohibition of the men’s basketball staff from conducting on-campus prospect evaluations for the first five official visits of the 2015-16 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction of the maximum number of countable athletic activity hours by one hour per week during the 2015-16 men’s basketball season (self-imposed by the university).
- A $10,000 fine, self-imposed by the university, plus 1 percent of the total budget for the men’s basketball program over the previous three years, imposed by the panel.