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NCAAB: SMU Mustangs issue statement expressing disappointment in NCAA Committee

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-15 13:10:30-04

Dallas, Texas – In light of the NCAA’s decision to stampede Southern Methodist University’s men’s basketball program with sanctions, the student-athletes released a statement Wednesday morning, voicing their disapproval of the NCAA’s sanctions and their plea to the NCAA to further review the penalties.

In the statement, released exclusively to CBS Sports, the players said that the NCAA “exercised questionable judgment in punishing innocent people” and that they “strongly disagree that a dedicated group of blameless, amateur athletes should bear the overwhelming weight of the consequences in this case.”

The statement goes on to praise head coach and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Larry Brown’s as being a ” life-skills teacher, a constantly available adviser, and a father figure to all of his players.” It also highlights the team’s seniors by saying that they feel it’s unfair they be penalized and denied the chance to play in the postseason.

Towards the end, the players say they believe they “were denied our due process” and they ask the NCAA to “reconsider the sanctions that unfairly target and disproportionately affect the innocent, and allow SMU Men’s Basketball to compete for a berth in postseason play.” The NCAA has yet to respond to the matter.

SMU announced last Friday that they would not fight its 2016 postseason ban or head coach Brown’s suspension.  Widely regarded as a coaching legend, Brown, 75, took over the SMU men’s basketball program in 2012 after spending time in both the college and professional ranks since his coaching career began in 1969.

The university’s president, R. Gerald Turner released a letter detailing exactly what the university would be appealing, however, because they felt that some of decisions are “a misapplication and/or a misinterpretation of the NCAA’s new penalty structure.”

These penalties are as follows:

  • The duration of scholarship losses in men’s basketball and the duration of recruiting restrictions in men’s basketball.
  • The vacating of men’s basketball victories during the 2013-14 season due to the participation of a student deemed ineligible by the Committee.

On September 29, it was announced that the NCAA would penalize the program for their violations involving former SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi and SMU student-athlete Keith Frazier. According to WFAA-ABC News 8, Frazier was deemed academically ineligible on January 16 and could not play for the remainder of the 2014-15 season, which prompted the almost nine month investigation. The suspension came three days after Maligi took a leave of absence for “personal reasons.”

In the NCAA’s 60-page Public Infractions Decision letter, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (“COI”) summarized the specifics of their investigation, stating:

“The violations in the men’s basketball program centered on academic fraud and unethical conduct. A former men’s basketball administrative assistant, hired by the head men’s basketball coach, engaged in unethical conduct by impermissibly assisting a highly recruited prospective student-athlete to obtain fraudulent academic credit. The former men’s basketball administrative assistant committed an additional act of unethical conduct when she provided false or misleading information during the investigation and failed to cooperate in later stages of the investigation. The head men’s basketball coach failed to report the incident of fraudulent academic credit after it had been brought to his attention, and he initially lied about the underlying violations when interviewed by the enforcement staff.”

It was also revealed Friday in President Turner’s letter that SMU’s men’s golf team will also be penalized for their own set of violations. These sanctions will be similar to those that were assessed to the men’s basketball program and they will all be appealed.

You can find President R. Gerald Turner’s letter and more information about SMU’s sanctions at this link: http://www.smu.edu/news/ncaa