Georgia Tech has had its basketball program slapped on the wrist, and slapped hard. The NCAA has decided that some of the school’s extracurricular activities were not in keeping with the high standards of the organization and has decided that the men’s basketball team won’t be able to find a spot in the postseason in 2019-20. It also put the school on probation for four years and gave the school a couple more slaps just for good measure.
The Atlantic Coast Conference school was found to have violated the NCAA’s rules on recruitment after it was determined that two Georgia Tech supporters had given benefits to the basketball team that are outside the scope of what the NCAA allows. The individuals had also reportedly given certain contributions to players, which is also not allowed.
According to an investigation by the NCAA, a booster had accepted a high-profile recruit at his home. That in itself may have only resulted in a minor slap, but it appears the unidentified booster took things a step further and provided a trip to a strip club along with $300, possibly in low-denomination bills to stuff into the G-string of dancers.
The booster wasn’t the only one involved. A coach with Georgia Tech had arranged the initial visit and subsequently didn’t cooperate when the NCAA launched its investigation. He reportedly also tried to get the prospect to lie about what had actually happened. The NCAA is coming down on him hard, considering a three-year show-cause penalty and a three-year ban from NCAA sports programs.
Another incident involved a similar situation, with a booster giving “thousands of dollars” in items such as meals, clothing, shoes and lodging, among others, to a recruit Georgia Tech wanted to put on the squad.
Georgia Tech isn’t the only school that has been caught up in what has been dubbed the biggest scandal in NCAA history. A number of schools are currently under investigation for dubious efforts to attract talented athletes, as are coaches, sports agents, school backers and even some sports reporters. Georgia Tech’s penalties are just the beginning of what’s still to come.
The school, in addition to missing the upcoming postseason, received a four-year probation, a fine of $5,000 and 2 percent of the budget of the men’s basketball program and a reduction of one scholarship for the men’s team for each of the four years. It also received a number of recruiting restrictions that will be in place during the probation, including an eight-week ban on unofficial visits, a three-visit reduction from the permissible number of official visits, an eight-week ban on recruiting communications and a reduction of 19 recruiting-person days from the permissible amount.
If that seems harsh, it gets even worse. The NCAA’s statement on the fine reads that Georgia Tech has to provide a “vacation of records in which the men’s basketball student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public decision release.”
The former coach that is being penalized can be employed by an NCAA school during his suspension, but he cannot be involved in that school’s athletics program in any form. The “show-cause” portion of the penalty means that the school can petition the NCAA to allow him to perform certain duties, provided it can legitimately show why the ban doesn’t apply to the particular situation.
Georgia Tech has also decided to issue a few of its own penalties, but these were more likely “suggestions” offered by the NCAA. They include a three-year disassociation of the former coach, a three-year disassociation of the aforementioned strip-club-hopping athlete and the booster and a disassociation of the “head coach’s friend and booster.”
If this is the type of ban the NCAA plans on handing down to all teams that are found to have been involved in questionable recruiting activity, the postseason lineup is going to be extremely thin. At least six schools are expected to receive fines and the NCAA VP of Regulatory Affairs, Stan Wilcox, has previously stated that there are even more cases that are still being investigated.