SE Missouri loses two seasons of women's basketball

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Southeast Missouri's women's basketball team was ordered to forfeit 44 victories Wednesday and the NCAA placed both the women's and men's programs on two years of probation for major and secondary violations.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions said the violations in the women's program in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons primarily involved impermissible housing, transportation and meals for prospective student athletes who moved near the university in the summer before enrolling for the first time. The men's basketball program was penalized for allowing ineligible transfers to travel and practice.

The school was censured for lack of institutional control and a failure by former women's coach B.J. Smith to monitor the program. Smith was coach from 2002-03 through 2005-06 before resigning in December 2006, compiling a 79-41 record over that span that was the best in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Southeast Missouri was 22-9 in 2005-06, winning the conference tournament and playing in the NCAA tournament, and 22-8 in 2004-05, losing in double overtime to Eastern Kentucky in the conference tournament championship game.

Ron Hines, spokesman for the athletic department, said the school hasn't decided if it will appeal the ruling.

Penalties, including those self-imposed by the university, also included a reduction in recruiting activity, financial penalties and a reduction in the number of scholarships.

The NCAA said its investigation found that seven prospects and one parent received impermissible automobile transportation from women's basketball managers, players and other prospects, with transportation arranged by members of the coaching staff. In addition, the NCAA said, members of the coaching staff provided impermissible transportation to four prospects from their homes to local venues.

Six prospects lived cost-free in an off-campus house rented by women's basketball players for various periods from a few days to a few weeks over a period of four summers, the NCAA said. The investigation found the women's coaching staff knew that prospects lived in the housing on some occasions but made no effort to make sure that they paid for it.

In addition, members of the women's coaching staff allowed two prospects to observe or volunteer at summer camps and to receive free housing and meals.

The committee found that six women's basketball prospects participated in voluntary summer workouts conducted by the university's strength and conditioning coach.

The NCAA said Smith had been aware that multiple prospects were in the vicinity of the university working in summer camps and participating in summer conditioning activities. The committee on infractions found that he failed to monitor their activities.

In the men's program, three transfer students traveled with the team and had their expenses paid even though they were ineligible. The violations occurred on multiple occasions over two academic years, resulting in extra benefits totaling between $1,700 and $2,800 for each of the transfers.

Hines said those infractions involved players brought on by then-coach Gary Garner because injuries had left him without enough people for five-on-five practices. Hines said Garner wasn't aware that he was violating NCAA rules.

The NCAA said a competitive advantage was gained because the players had an opportunity to acclimate to road travel and further integrate in the team while receiving additional coaching and practice time.