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Report: Southern Miss Basketball Under NCAA Investigation; Vols Lose Top Recruit

Donnie Tyndall

Southern Miss basketball is under NCAA investigation for alleged violations committed under current Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall according to Bleacher Report. Tyndall opened his scheduled Thursday media availability with a statement on the issue.

“I’m sure most of you have questions about the NCAA deal at Southern Miss,” Tyndall said. “This is all I’m going to say and can say – If I’m asked to cooperate I will cooperate 100%. That’s all I will say or can say at this time.”

Tyndall also confirmed that he has not been contacted by the NCAA.

The investigation is reportedly focused on how academically ineligible students were treated:

A source close to the program told Bleacher Report that the NCAA’s investigation centers on how tuition, living expenses and other fees were paid for “Prop 48” recruits who signed with the Golden Eagles but were academically ineligible out of high school or junior college.

Even though they weren’t on scholarship, the players in question enrolled in classes at Southern Miss, lived in off-campus apartments and spent a year earning enough academic credits to make them eligible the following season, when they were placed on scholarship. This is standard practice under NCAA Proposition 48 rules, but the financial support these players may have received is under investigation. – Bleacher Report

For those not familiar with Proposition 48,  it was enacted by the NCAA in 1986 and established eligibility requirements for students athletes signing a National Letter of Intent with a college or university. “Prop 48” as it is commonly called mandates that student-athletes must carry a minimum 2.0 grade point average (GPA) in 11 core courses and have a combined 700 score on the SAT to qualify to participate in Division I sports as a freshman.

This isn’t Tyndall’s first alleged connection with NCAA violations. In August of 2010, Morehead State was put on probation for two years for “major violations in its recruiting related to booster activity” committed under Tyndall. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

In his original Memorandum of Understanding released by Tennessee upon Tyndall’s hiring, Section 9 indicates that, “Coach represents that he has disclosed to the University all material information concerning previous NCAA, conference, or institutional rules violations committed by him or any staff member under his direct or indirect control at any other NCAA member institution prior to the date on which he executed this agreement.”

It’s too early to say if any of that will come into play. Tennessee spokesman Jimmy Stanton released a statement (via B/R) on the matter:

“We are aware of the situation at Southern Miss and will not comment further until there is a resolution. We have an extensive vetting process with all potential coaching candidates, including very specific conversations with the NCAA and school officials at Southern Miss regarding compliance during coach Tyndall’s tenure there, during which no issues were brought to our attention.”

Update: The fallout for the Vols hit swiftly, with multiple outlets, including, the Knoxville News Sentinel and others reporting that top 2015 commitment Chris Clarke has de-committed from the Vols. Clarke, a 6-6 versatile swingman from Virginia Beach, Va., committed to the Vols just one week ago and was one of the top targets for Tyndall in this recruiting cycle.

The News Sentinel went on to report that the de-commitment was unrelated to the Tyndall situation, though the timing is certainly interesting.

RTI’s Daniel Lewis contributed to this report.

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