<
>

NCAA panel recommends Southeast Missouri State to forfeit 2002-06 wins

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Southeast Missouri State women's
basketball team should lose all 79 of its victories during the
four-year tenure of former coach B.J. Smith, an NCAA committee has
ruled.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions also decided that Southeast
should have its 2006 NCAA Tournament appearance taken away,
according to a letter from the committee to university president
Ken Dobbins that was released Wednesday.

The university is appealing the ruling. Smith has asked for a
full hearing, which will take place no earlier than April.

Among the violations cited in a preliminary report the school
released in June 2006: improper transportation of prospective
players from airports and on official visits; prospects receiving
summer lodging without paying rent or paying an inappropriate
amount; and members of the women's staff observing summer workouts
of prospective and enrolled athletes.

The university released the letter sent to it Oct. 9 by
Josephine Potuto, vice chair of the Committee on Infractions, that
outlined the penalties and the factors considered in response to a
request by the Southeast Missourian newspaper for records related
to the 22-month NCAA investigation.

Smith was Southeast's coach from 2002-03 through 2005-06, before
resigning. The team's 79-41 record over that span was the best in
the Ohio Valley Conference.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Smith told the newspaper, "I
truly wish I could, but I just can't until it's resolved."

The university self imposed sanctions when the preliminary
report was made public in 2006. Dobbins said he believed similar or
worse infractions had been made at other schools, and in those
cases, teams were not forced to vacate records.

"We believe the actions we took are appropriate to what
violations occurred," Dobbins said.

The university adopted a variety of sanctions after the
preliminary report, including a reduction in scholarships and
recruiting days.

But the letter from Potuto stated that the violations were
numerous, serious and intentional. It cited the direct involvement
of Smith and said violations involved "ineligible competition in a
case where there was also a finding of a lack of institutional
control."

Dobbins said, "We don't believe we received unfair competitive
advantages based on these types of violations. We don't have the
types of violations that raise to the level of vacating records."