Recent reports indicate that the NCAA has opened an investigation into potential recruiting violations by the St. Mary’s Gaels. According to ESPN's Andy Katz:
"What specifically the Gaels are under investigation for is unclear. Multiple attempts to reach Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett and athletic director Mark Orr have gone unanswered.”
Katz reports that the NCAA has interviewed former Saint Mary's assistant David Patrick who is best known for his recruiting efforts in Australia. He left St. Mary’s in 2010 to work as an NBA scout for the Houston Rockets. Patrick was dismissed for illegally “working out players during the lockout”.
Potential penalties could not come at a worse time for the Gaels.
St. Mary’s is coming off a breakthrough season in the WCC. They defeated Gonzaga in the WCC Championship game (ending their run of eleven straight WCC Championships) and gathered national recognition with a ranking as high as 13.
Saint Mary’s is poised to have another solid season.
They return most major pieces, including point guard Matthew Dellavedova, guards Stephen Holt and Jordan Page, and freshman standout center Brad Waldow. Incoming freshman Chris Reyes should provide quality minutes at the power forward position.
Possible sanctions would cripple this team that has the talent to again compete for the WCC Championship. A penalty-free St. Mary’s team has the upside, talent, and coaching to make a deep run come March.
Gaels fans will be crossing their fingers that the NCAA’s findings prove to be unsubstantial.