SMU announced late Friday afternoon it will not appeal the NCAA’s sanctions to ban the men’s basketball team from 2016 postseason play, nor will it fight coach Larry Brown’s nine-game suspension to start the 2015-16 season.
This means the Mustangs, a team many project as a preseason top-25 squad, will not be playing in this season’s NCAA Tournament.
“The simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year postseason ban for the level of misconduct that occurred,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner said in a written statement.
However, the school is still going to appeal some of the punishments at hand. Among the disciplines SMU is going to push back on: the number of scholarships lost over the course of the next three seasons; the recruiting limitations levied; and the 27 vacated wins from the 2013-14 season.
SMU’s penalties from the NCAA stem from multiple incidents surrounding the eligibility of former McDonald’s All-American and current SMU player Keith Frazier, whose coursework was completed by a former administrative assistant.
“Even the most vigilant and comprehensive compliance programs cannot prevent individual acts of misconduct,” Turner wrote.
Multiple people tied to the case, including Frazier, Brown and the woman who did Frazier’s online schoolwork, lied to the NCAA during the early stages of the probe. To read up on all of the details with SMU’s standing punishments from the NCAA, check in on our primer.
Brown put out a written statement. It reads in full: “The fact that NCAA violations happened on my watch is something that I regret and take very seriously. I am committed to winning with integrity and we must — and we will — do better. While the decision to not appeal our postseason ban was made in the best interests of the program, I am truly disappointed for our student-athletes who are the most impacted by the penalties and who had nothing to do with the infractions. Our young men need your support now more than ever, and I am confident that the Mustang family will respond.”
SMU will fight some of the punishment on the basis of the NCAA’s new punishment protocol. This is the first major case tied to updated punitive procedures for the NCAA, and so SMU believes the sanctions at hand are heavy-handed given SMU previously self-imposed some penalties of its own in regard to the men’s basketball program and the men’s golf program, which was also hit with big-time sanctions.
“Our appeal will be based not only on expected mitigating factors, but also on what we believe is a misapplication and/or a misinterpretation of the NCAA’s new penalty structure, as well as some notable procedural errors in this case,” Turner wrote, adding, “As expected, any new system will generate areas of ambiguity that require correction or clarification.”
SMU has until Oct. 14 to officially file its appeal.