University of Northern Colorado Gets it Right

Photo: UNC’s head basketball coach B.J. Hill and staff get the swift boot with the discovery of level 1 recruiting violations last April.

We have recounted the story of Louisville’s basketball NCAA violations which have been ongoing for nearly two years.

If you want to see how a school properly manages NCAA level 1 violations, take a look at DU’s neighbor to the north, the University of Northern Colorado.

A Level 1 violation, as defined by the NCAA: Violations that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.

The UNC Bears and former coach B.J. Hill was found guilty of alleged NCAA violations dating back several seasons by the school’s administration. Instead of dragging out the process, the University acted quickly with the release of Hill and his staff, implemented self-imposed penalties and now await word from the NCAA on whether the self-imposed sanctions are acceptable. School officials declined to discuss the nature of the allegations or violations – as required by the NCAA.

The University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton released a statement last Friday afternoon regarding the NCAA violations that occurred in April, deemed NCAA level 1 infractions (serious). In a published letter to the campus community:

The investigation is not yet complete, but we have learned enough to know that there were violations. The NCAA allows us to self-impose penalties even before the investigation is complete, and we have chosen to do so to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the integrity of the program.

Late this (Friday) afternoon, we notified the NCAA of our decision to self-impose the following penalties: A postseason ban for the 2016-17 men’s basketball season. A financial penalty of $5,000 plus 2 percent of the men’s basketball program budget. A reduction of a total of three financial aid awards provided to men’s basketball student-athletes during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

The following recruiting restrictions over the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years: Four fewer official visits. A total of eight weeks’ prohibition on unofficial visits. A total of seven weeks’ prohibition on recruiting communications. A total of 20 days’ reduction in off-campus recruiting activities.

While Louisville basketball implemented similar sanctions, they have conducted their investigation in slow motion. They failed to do the obvious – release head coach Rick Pitino who failed to maintain administrative control of his program. They are awaiting a final finding by the NCAA who have moved at a glacial pace as well.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Pitino said, “It was difficult (self-sanctions), but certain things are earned, and we earned that year’s probation by one person doing the wrong things in life,” Pitino said, referring to McGee, a former player, graduate assistant and director of basketball operations. “Unfortunately for the fans, the players, the coaches, everybody who put in so much time and effort, it was disappointing. But certainly we deserved to sit that year out (of the playoffs).”

Louisville, college basketballs richest ‘franchise’ according to Forbes, is picked to finish in the top 5 this season according to most polls. Mid-major University of Northern Colorado will continue to operate on the fringes of DI basketball this season. I will be rooting for UNC this season, except for December 17th, when they travel to Magness Arena.

They did the right thing.

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