In a statement released by NCAA.org, the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions has indicated that the St. Mary's men's college basketball program has committed multiple recruiting violations.
Saint Mary’s College of California failed to monitor its men’s basketball program and a former assistant men’s basketball coach acted unethically in his recruitment of international prospects, according to a decision announced today by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The case also includes a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head men’s basketball coach as well as impermissible training and coaching sessions.
According to the statement, the penalties for the college most prominently include a five-game suspension for head coach Randy Bennett next season and a reduction in scholarships from 13 to 11 for two seasons, starting in 2014-15.
UPDATE: Friday, March 1 at 1:36 p.m. ET by Matt Fitzgerald
Matt Norlander of CBS Sports logged a statement released by head coach Randy Bennett in the aftermath of the investigation.
I am disappointed...I cooperated fully with the investigation and accepted responsibility where I came up short. The penalties are clearly excessive and although I'm still reviewing the report and trying to understand it, I know already that the report fails to include important mitigating information and tells only part of the story. I'll continue to review the report and consider my options.
---End of update---
Various recruiting restrictions and a show-cause penalty for the former assistant that knowingly committed infractions have also been put into place.
How would you assess the sanctions placed on St. Mary's basketball program?
A second international prospect was aided in his efforts to obtain a visa, as the assistant coach provided personal financial information to help the cause.
Bennett failed to monitor the situations involving the international recruits and did not act on the "red flags" raised by his former assistant's activity.
This is certainly a dose of bad news for the Gaels, who are 25-5 overall and 13-2 in West Coast Conference play. 2012-13 marks their sixth consecutive 20-win campaign under Bennett, and the team hasn't lost to anyone besides No. 2-ranked Gonzaga since December 23.
That string of 20-win seasons may be in jeopardy with the reduction in scholarships, and the four-year probation sentence leaves little margin for error for the foreseeable future.
St. Mary's sits in second place behind the Bulldogs in the WCC and is ranked No. 23 in the latest USA TODAY poll.