Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory said the NCAA’s decision to place minor limits on recruiting is simply another challenge that must be passed, joining no arena for the 2011-12 season and the loss of two key players.
“When you’re trying to build back the program, with a new culture and adding to that culture by bringing in the right type of player … it’s impaired a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to have work double-time. Fit 48 hours into a 24-hour day.”
The NCAA announced Thursday the following penalties on Thursday related to violations that occurred during predecessor Paul Hewitt’s time as coach:
Gregory, who was hired away from Dayton earlier this year, was told about the investigation during the interview process. Reached in Milwaukee while watching a tournament, Gregory said he has no ill feelings toward Hewitt, and described the penalties as being characteristic of minor violations. He said he hasn’t spent a lot of time trying to figure out if the penalties fit the violations, saying doing so would be a waste of time. Though he was mostly a by-stander, he said he was impressed by how Tech handled itself and its plan moving forward. Tech hired two new compliance officers and added a third within the past two months. The department previously had two employees, neither of whom are still at Tech. Paul Parker, the former head of compliance, now works at Auburn. Katreshia Louis, an associate, left to join North Carolina A&T.
“We will come out of this stronger where no one can question Tech’s integrity,” he said.
Hewitt, who was fired by Tech and then hired at George Mason, said he’s disappointed in the NCAA’s decision to punish his former basketball team and that Gregory has to deal with the penalties.
“I feel bad that Brian has to do this,” Hewitt said. “I feel bad that they are doing this with the Georgia Tech basketball program. It’s very unfair.”
It could be argued that these penalties are actually more severe from a competition standpoint than those given to the football team. Other than the probation and the loss of face with the stripping of the ACC title, coach Paul Johnson noted his team can move forward with a clean slate.
Gregory already faced the prospect of trying to rebuild the basketball team that unexpectedly lost several starters (Iman Shumpert, Brian Oliver), but also won’t have a home court in 2011-12 while the new arena is built.
The NCAA’s inquiry into the basketball team started separately from its look at football. They were rolled into one large investigation.
There are two issues which the NCAA alerted Tech to in a letter on Dec. 21, 2010 (details were accumulated from a variety of reports):
“We feel like we were operating within the NCAA rules,” Hewitt said. “This is a difference of opinion.”
There were also minor issues of coaches leaving too many tickets for players including the Hawks Josh Smith and former Tech greats Matt Harpring and James Forrest, and a player, Shumpert, being given too many tickets to a sporting event at Tech. Tech gave each player four on two separate occasions. Because Harpring and Forrest also coach, the NCAA says they can only receive two complimentary tickets per game. In its March 17 response, Tech argues it didn’t know that Harpring and Forrest were involved in youth camps that overrode the fact that they are alumni. Shumpert was required to donate $40 to a charity of his choice, which was the value of the tickets. None of those players have been disassociated from the program as a result of receiving the tickets, according to Radakovich.
Interesting, Tech offered to take the following punitive actions, some of which the NCAA rejected:
Athletic director Dan Radakovich said on Thursday that these violations will not affect the $7 million owed to Hewitt as part of his contractual buyout. Radakovich fired Hewitt earlier this year. What’s interesting is that in the Public Infractions Report, the NCAA says it believed the infractions to be major, while Tech thought they were minor. That’s an important distinction because a major violation would have triggered a clause in Hewitt’s contract that may have vacated the buyout.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow coverage on twitter @ajcgatech.