Nearly three decades after the school’s football program got the “death penalty” for violating recruiting rules, the basketball program was nailed Tuesday morning.
The NCAA banned the Ponies from postseason play for the coming season. And it suspended coach Larry Brown for nine games.
The charges this time against Brown? Academic fraud, unethical conduct and a lack of control of his program.
“I’m really disappointed in what happened to our kids,” Brown said at Tuesday afternoon press conference. “I know the NCAA has rules and they have to follow those rules. But when it comes to these kids, none of them had anything to do with this. It’s about one person and one isolated incident.”
The NCAA’s investigation found a former staffer did online coursework for basketball player Keith Frazier, so he could become eligible to transfer and play at SMU.
Then, when Brown found out, the NCAA says he didn’t do enough to comply with its rules.
SMU President Gerald Turner called it an “isolated incident.”
“This was one instance,” Turner said at an earlier press conference Tuesday. “It had nothing to do with credit at SMU. It had nothing to do with SMU faculty. It didn’t have anything to do with any process of SMU.”
SMU is expected to be ranked in the top 25 this season. Now, not only will the Mustangs miss the postseason, they’ll have to give up seven scholarships in the next three years.
The NCAA also handed down penalties against SMU’s former golf coach for recruiting violations.
This is Brown’s third run-in with the NCAA. His teams at UCLA and Kansas also suffered through postseason bans after he left for the NBA.
Today, Brown defended himself.
“Based on SMU’s past history, I don’t think they would’ve ever considered hiring me if they didn’t have complete faith in me in running the type of program they could be proud of,” Brown said. “I have nothing to be ashamed of in any of those cases.”
SMU still has 15 days to appeal the ruling, and a decision could take a few months.
On campus, sophomore Aaron Tverye expressed support for the coach.
“I'm 100 percent on team Larry Brown,” Tverye said. “He's done a lot for this school, culture. You can definitely tell that the culture change has been really impactful on student life and spirit on campus. Definitely love having him here.”
SMU basketball starts the season Nov. 14 at Moody Coliseum -- with or without Larry Brown.