AU Won't Appeal NCAA Basketball Case Ruling

The main sanction against the Tigers is that they will lose one basketball scholarship for the next two seasons.

Auburn, Ala.--The NCAA Committee on Infractions announced on Tuesday that Auburn has received a two-year probation for violation of NCAA recruiting rules. The toughest sanctions are the loss of one scholarship for the next two seasons and a reduction in recruiting evaluations for the coaching staff for the next two seasons.

Auburn had previously self-imposed the loss of one scholarship for one year. The probationary period will run through April 26, 2006.

The committee ruled that Huntsville AAU coach Mark Komara acted as a recruiting representative of Auburn basketball, but it did not find the university guilty of the most serious charges made against it that Auburn had offered cash, cars and other inducements to entice two recruits to sign with the Tigers.

"This case involved activities conducted by Auburn University's men's basketball staff with amateur basketball club teams from the Huntsville, Alabama area and individuals that are associated with these teams," NCAA Committee on Infractions chairman Tom Yeager said in a press conference announcing the findings of the case. "This case was a major infractions case that involved nine major violations of NCAA legislation. However, the two most serious allegations of improper inducements by members of the Auburn coaching staff to two prospective student athletes were not found by the committee," Yeager said.

"With regard to these two allegations, the committee found that much of the information associated with these allegations was in conflict and thus was not sufficient to support findings," Yeager said.

Former Auburn assistant coaches Shannon Weaver and Mike Wilson had been accused of offering improper inducements to two recruits (Chadd Moore of Huntsville and Jacky Butler from McComb, Miss.). Yeager said there was no finding against either coach that would prevent them from continuing to work as college coaches. Wilson is working as a scout for the NBA's Denver Nuggets. Weaver was part of the staff of Coach Cliff Ellis that was fired last month and is currently looking for a job in coaching. University president Dr. Ed Richardson said on Tuesday that the firing of Ellis and his staff had nothing to do with the NCAA case.

Richardson also said the university will accept the findings of the committee and not appeal even though AU only proposed a one-year loss of one scholarship, reducing the number of players on scholarship from 13 to 12. There was no ban on postseason play for the Tigers and none considered, Yeager said.

At its hearing before the committee in Phoenix, Arizona, Auburn strongly denied charges that Komara was an interest of the university, but the committee ruled otherwise.

"The second issue in this case dealt with the university's contention that the sponsor of one of the teams that was providing significant benefits to certain members of his amateur teams, who were also being recruited by the university, was not a representative of the university's interest," Yeager said.

"In this case the university argued that he was acting on behalf of his own teams rather than the university and therefore the university was not responsible for his actions. The committee on infractions found otherwise. Concluding that the relationship the basketball staff developed with the sponsor, combined with his actions made on behalf of the institution, rendered him a representative of the university's athletic interests and therefore triggered institutional responsibility for his actions."

Yeager later said that one of the reasons the NCAA found Komara to be an interest of the university was the considerable amount of contact between Komara and the Auburn coaching staff. He said there were records of more than 1,100 phone calls (approximately one a day of during the time frame studied) between Komara and the AU staff and that most of them were around times of visits or trips to the university. Yeager, also that in comparison, said that Auburn coaches had only contacted other coaches up to 200 times at most.

"With this determination, reading the findings and comparing them with other violations in other cases without specific knowledge of the circumstances of this case will be misleading," Yeager said. "When individuals such as high school or club coaches, youth center directors and others are classified as representatives of the university's athletic interests, special circumstances can exist because some exceptions for their conduct are provided by NCAA recruiting rules. For this reason the committee concluded that the extent of institutional responsibility for the conduct of the institutional representative varied relative to the violations found in this case."

"The violations centered on the recruitment of two prospective student athletes and involved the representative /sponsor in the following activities. He financed multiple campus visits to the university's campus on behalf of prospective student athletes. The provision of over $3,000 in cash to prospect number one. The purchase of stereo equipment valued at $743 for prospect one. The payment of expenses for a friend of prospect one to travel in conjunction with competition with his amateur teams. Improper transportation by assistant basketball coach on the official paid visit of prospect number one.

"In regard to prospect number two, the young man received three official paid visits to the university's campus including transportation and on occasion lodging. They purchased a car for the prospect valued at over $6,324, which the committee found was paid for by the representative sponsor of one of the amateur teams. The payment of $65 per month while playing for the team and at least one other cash payment of approximately $300 to prospect number two. "Finally, this case provided document examples of many of the amateurism concerns associated with amateur basketball programs and the perceived immunity they believe they enjoy from NCAA legislation. We hope that the committee in making the findings in this case has debunked that concept, which needs to be further addressed by the NCAA and beginning with the examples cited in this case."

Yeager added, "In considering the case the committee then imposed the following penalties. That the university shall be publicly reprimanded and censured and placed on two years probation. There will be the loss of one basketball scholarship from 13 to 12 for a period of two years--the 2004-2005 and the 2005-2006 seasons. The university had self-imposed one grant cut for one year. The committee adopted the university's reduction in official paid visits from 12 to nine for a period of two years in the sport of men's basketball. The committee also approved the reduction in evaluation days from 40 to 35 for two years, which will be the 03-04 and the 2004-2005 years and the number of coaches allowed to recruit off campus reduced by one for the July 2004 evaluation period that was self imposed by the institution.

"Finally, during the probation period the university will be prohibited from recruiting prospective student athletes from the amateur club program that the team's sponsor (Mark Komara) is involved with in this report."

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