It didn’t take long for the NCAA’s findings to shake up the MU men’s basketball program.
Assistant coach Lane Odom resigned Tuesday afternoon, and associate coach Tony Harvey was suspended with pay hours after the public release of the NCAA’s official “notice of allegations” outlining the program’s possible violations from 1999 to 2003.
Harvey confirmed he was suspended with pay until after MU responds to the NCAA’s allegations by July. 1.
“I can only comply with the rules,” Harvey said. “Right now, I’ll do no business for the university until the investigation is complete. I am off the road recruiting and all.”
MU received a preliminary copy of the NCAA’s 19-page notice of allegations Friday but released a redacted version of the report Tuesday morning during a news conference at Reynolds Alumni Center.
The NCAA’s report does not cite any allegations of academic fraud, but it says that from 1999 to 2003 members of the basketball program bought meals, provided transportation and had impermissible contact with recruits.
Other allegations include the failure to monitor NCAA compliance rules, unethical conduct by an athletic department staff member and offseason league play by team members.
Harvey is accused of giving former guard Ricky Clemons $250, a charge he denied Tuesday.
“I’m still going to take the same position I’ve taken all along, that I did not do that,” Harvey said. “There’s an unethical charge that’s out there that carries a severe penalty.”
The NCAA could not substantiate the allegation that Clemons received improper academic help. Clemons’ claim that fellow basketball players Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson also took money from Harvey and Odom was not addressed in the NCAA’s report.Athletic Director Mike Alden said the athletic department takes all the allegations “very seriously,” but he would not speculate on whether any of them would result in major or minor violations if proved.
Alden also declined to discuss any personnel changes within the men’s basketball program at the news conference.
The NCAA’s letter Friday to Chancellor Richard Wallace indicates the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions expects to hear MU’s formal response to the allegations Aug. 13-15 in Seattle, where it will rule on major or secondary violations.
If the NCAA issues major violations, which would provide “an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage,” penalties could include a loss of scholarships, banishment from postseason play and television appearances.
Chuck Smrt, a former NCAA investigator for 17 years and founder the Compliance Group, which investigates athletics programs for colleges and universities, said it is difficult to speculate on the fate of MU’s basketball program.
“There’s not an amount (of money) above which is always a major violation,” Smrt said. “The circumstances of the situation dictate what the severity is as opposed to a certain amount. Amount is a factor in the severity of it, but there could be other factors.”
The names of all basketball players involved and UM staff members were blacked out of the report in compliance with federal privacy law, UM system President Elson Floyd said. The decision to black out the names of athletic department staff was “personnel-driven,” he said.
Alden and Snyder apologized to fans, faculty, alumni, students and supporters of the basketball program for the problems that have plagued the basketball team for the past 16 months.
“I recognize that mistakes have been made in the operation of our basketball program,” Snyder said. “And I sit here before you today and take full responsibility for the commission of those mistakes.”
The allegation that Snyder gave shoes and sweatpants to Clemons is detailed in the NCAA report, which also cites Clemons’ all-terrain vehicle accident at Floyd’s residence July 4. In addition, an allegation that MU’s football program indirectly paid 15 high schools $10,965 during MU’s summer football camps in 1999 and 2000 also is mentioned.
Wallace said MU and the NCAA tried to settle the case with a “summary disposition,” but failed because both sides could not agree to all of the NCAA’s allegations.
“This institution over the years has prided itself on taking challenges and turning them into positives,” Wallace said. “We will work toward that objective tirelessly and very hard over the coming months.”
The NCAA’s report Friday and the pending infractions hearing in August are the latest in a 16-month scandal that began with Clemons being arrested in January 2003 on suspicion of choking Jessica Bunge, a former MU student who was his girlfriend.
In April 2003, Clemons pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and third-degree domestic assault. He was sentenced to a 60-day work release program and probation, which he violated when he crashed an all-terrain vehicle at Floyd’s residence. Clemons served the rest of his sentence in Boone County Jail.
In August, Floyd expanded the investigation by appointing MU professor Michael Devaney to lead an independent inquiry into the men’s basketball program. Devaney’s six-person committee was expected to issue a report in December but has yet to do so. That month, jailhouse telephone recordings were released in which Clemons claimed he and several other players received cash.