Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith: 5-game suspension 'signifies closure'

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | 8:41 p.m. CDT
Missouri men's basektball coach Frank Haith received a five-game suspension from the NCAA following an investigation of the athletic department at the University of Miami where he previously coached.

COLUMBIA —Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith said he will not appeal the five-game suspension he received Tuesday following a 27-month NCAA investigation into Haith's time at the University of Miami.

Haith, who coached at Miami from 2004 to 2011, was suspended for “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” after an NCAA committee found inconsistencies in his explanations of a loan given to former booster Nevin Shapiro by a former Miami assistant coach.

“Each time the former head men’s basketball coach (Haith) gave a different explanation as to why he wrote the camp advance checks,” according to the 102-page report released by the NCAA.

Haith was notified of the suspension late Monday night and said he immediately contacted Missouri athletics director Mike Alden.

“I was truthful in my communication with the NCAA,”  Haith said at a news conference Tuesday at Mizzou Arena, his knuckles planted on his cheek and his eyes tired. “If I wasn’t truthful, I think I would’ve been hit with unethical conduct. I was very truthful.”

Neither Haith nor the university will appeal the suspension, meaning Haith will be away from his team for five games. Haith is allowed to coach practices prior to the season opener.

“What my family has been through over the last 27 months, I cannot tell you what we’ve had to endure,” Haith said. “Nor do I want to put the university through any more. This signifies closure. We can move forward. Understand that this is not an admission of guilt, because I do not agree with the findings of the NCAA.”

Haith's suspension spans from the season opener Nov. 8 until Nov. 25. Missouri will be without him for games against Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb and Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is also required to attend a NCAA Regional Rules seminar at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year. 

Missouri will continue paying Haith during the suspension because it is not imposed by MU, MU Associate Athletic Director Chad Moller said. Haith said he plans to donate a portion of his salary during the suspension to the Boys and Girls Club in Columbia.

It has not been decided who will serve as the head coach in his absence. Haith is allowed to recruit during his suspension. At this point, it is his understanding that he cannot be at practice during the suspension.

“We certainly are supportive of coach Haith,” Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said. “We’re supportive of the job he’s doing with our basketball program at the University of Missouri, and we too are looking forward to closure on this. We have a bright future ahead of us.”

Yahoo Sports reported in 2011 that Haith had knowledge of a $10,000 payment to a family member of former Miami player DeQuan Jones during Jones’ recruitment. Shapiro, the former booster who is now serving a 20-year federal sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme, said he gave the money to former Miami assistant coach Jake Morton for that purpose.

When Shapiro began experiencing financial trouble, he requested Haith loan him a large sum of money or return the $50,000 Shapiro donated to the Miami program, according to the NCAA report. Haith declined both options, but assistant coach Jake Morton loaned Shapiro $7,000, which Shapiro repaid, the report said.

After Shapiro was incarcerated in 2010, he began threatening to disclose incriminating information about his relationship with the Miami athletic department. The NCAA committee determined that Haith and Morton worked together to end Shapiro’s threats, which ended with Shapiro receiving $10,000. 

Why and how Haith’s assistant coach was able to give Shapiro that amount of money are the questions Haith failed to explain consistently, the report said.

“As the leader of a high-profile basketball program, he had the responsibility to make sure he and his staff followed the rules,” the report said. “The former head men’s basketball coach failed to meet his responsibilities as a head coach when he did not monitor the activities of his assistant coaches, and attempted to cover up the booster’s threats to disclose incriminating information, according to the committee.”

After news of the suspension became public Tuesday morning, Haith received a text message from Laurence Bowers, a former Tiger forward. Bowers told Haith in the message that he learned how to deal with adversity by watching Haith, referring to the year he sat out due to anterior cruciate ligament surgery.

Twenty-seven months after the Shapiro scandal leaked, at a different school in a different state, Haith now has some adversity of his own to deal with.

"Adversity is a part of life," Haith said at the news conference. "We all grow from adversity."

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.   

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