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  1. Sports

USF, NCAA investigate men's basketball program; assistant Oliver Antigua resigns

TAMPA

The USF men's basketball program is under NCAA investigation for possible academic fraud issues, a probe that could put third-year coach Orlando Antigua's tenure in jeopardy and already has forced the resignation of his younger brother.

ESPN first reported the news Wednesday. Less than two hours later, USF announced in a two-paragraph statement that third-year assistant Oliver Antigua had resigned.

The investigation is believed to involve players currently on the roster. Oliver Antigua had not been permitted to go on the road recruiting this month, according to ESPN. Wednesday marked the beginning of the NCAA's last five-day summer evaluation period.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, USF indicated it is working with the NCAA enforcement staff to investigate an inquiry into "potential violations of NCAA bylaws and university standards" by one of its programs.

"Because the University of South Florida is committed to protecting the integrity of the investigation and ensuring those involved receive fair treatment, we cannot provide any details about the investigation at this time," the statement read.

The timing is especially bad considering USF's pursuit of membership in the Big 12, whose board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby to explore expansion candidates.

When discussing possible criteria in the selection process, board chairman David Boren said, among other things, "we're very much looking at the reputations of these institutions for integrity."

Oliver Antigua, a 40-year-old former Seton Hall and Manhattan assistant, arrived with his brother to USF in April 2014. Before that, he spent a decade as coach at St. Raymond High — he and his brother's alma mater — in the Bronx.

Orlando Antigua, 43, entering the third season of a five-year deal that pays $900,000 annually (with $25,000 built-in escalators), is 17-48 with the Bulls. In February, athletic director Mark Harlan acknowledged the challenges (roster attrition, demanding nonconference slate) Antigua has faced so far, but he said it was reasonable to expect significant improvement in 2016-17.

Already this offseason, two veterans — point guard Roddy Peters and power forward Chris Perry — have been dismissed for repeated violations of school policy.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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