Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Hall of Fame hoops coaches dealing with NCAA troubles

Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown and Roy Williams are dealing with stunning escort allegations, embarrassing academic fraud and multi-game suspensions.

And that's just when the season starts.

It's unclear just how big of an impact the NCAA troubles will have on the quartet's programs.

For Louisville's Pitino, the focus is allegations that an ex-staffer hired an escort and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits from 2010-14. Syracuse's Boeheim and SMU's Brown are both facing suspensions.

And Williams' North Carolina program is part of the school's academic fraud scandal involving athletes across numerous sports, a case currently crawling through the NCAA infractions process.

Three of the Hall of Famers coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which held its preseason media day Wednesday. Pitino skipped the day of interviews on advice of counsel.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said he's not more concerned that three of the league's biggest coaching names were dealing with NCAA issues than he would be for any league program.

"Those guys are Hall of Fame coaches for a reason," Swofford said in an interview with the Associated Press. "They have withstood the test of time in running quality programs. Issues are going to happen sometimes, and I think that what defines a program or an organization or an individual is how you deal with those issues when they come.

"I'm confident that these coaches and their programs and their universities will deal very effectively with it."

Here's a look at the issues looming over the group of Hall of Famers with a combined six national championships:

Rick Pitino

Things have been tense for the Cardinals' coach ever since Katina Powell's allegations became public this month in the escort's book. Pitino has denied knowledge of alleged activities, which have led to four investigations while raising questions about Pitino's future with the program he led to the 2013 NCAA championship.

Pitino, entering his 15th season at Louisville, has promised he won't resign.

Swofford said during his annual commissioner's forum that the league would've preferred for Pitino to attend media day, but understood there were "extenuating circumstances."

Two players, graduate transfer Trey Lewis and senior Damion Lee, did attend.

Lewis said athletic director Tom Jurich has assured the team that Pitino will remain coach. Added Lee, "Things happen and we really can't control everything."

Jim Boeheim

The end of a multi-year NCAA probe didn't spare the Syracuse coach.

While the school faces financial penalties, scholarship reductions and probation for academic, drug and gifts violations, Boeheim must serve a nine-game suspension during ACC play. The NCAA also called for 108 vacated victories from his 966-win total, which stands second on the all-time men's list to Duke Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.

The school last year self-imposed a postseason ban that kept the Orange out of the ACC Tournament, with Boeheim skipping his postgame news conference after the season-ending loss at North Carolina State. Now in his 40th season at Syracuse, Boeheim has appealed what he called a "pretty harsh penalty."

Team spokesman Pete Moore said Wednesday the plan is for longtime assistant Mike Hopkins, Boeheim's designated successor, to coach any games Boeheim misses.

Roy Williams

In May, the NCAA hit UNC with lack of institutional control among five charges in a scandal centered around 18 years of no-show courses featuring artificially high grades and significant athlete enrollments.

Neither the 13th-year Tar Heels coach nor his program are specifically cited for a violation and Williams has denied wrongdoing.

The case likely won't reach resolution before spring, though effects could linger regardless of whether sanctions are coming because it has already hurt UNC's recruiting.

"Do I feel good about what happened? Heck no," Williams said this month. "I'm mad about it, embarrassed about it, sad about it. ... But I'm not going to go around and put my head in the sand and say (to recruits), 'We did nothing, everybody's just saying bad things about us.' We had some mistakes made."

Larry Brown

Brown also has a nine-game suspension, though his starts opening night.

The NCAA issued a report in September blaming the fourth-year Mustangs coach for multiple infractions tied to academic fraud, including lying to NCAA investigators, while issuing a postseason ban for SMU.

The well-traveled coach also had a Final Four appearance at UCLA in 1980 vacated after two players were determined to be ineligible, while Kansas ended up on probation for violations during Brown's tenure the year after he won the 1988 national championship and left for the NBA.

SMU's players "had nothing to do with this whole situation," Brown said Tuesday during the American Athletic Conference media day. "So personally this has been the worst time for me in terms of basketball. But fortunately I get to go to practice every day with a great staff and a great group of kids.

"That's kind of helped the situation a lot."

   
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