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Thursday, December 6, 2007
NCAA panel recommends Southeast Missouri State to forfeit 2002-06 wins

Associated Press

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team should lose all 79 of its victories during the four-year tenure of former coach B.J. Smith, an NCAA committee has ruled.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions also decided that Southeast should have its 2006 NCAA Tournament appearance taken away, according to a letter from the committee to university president Ken Dobbins that was released Wednesday.

The university is appealing the ruling. Smith has asked for a full hearing, which will take place no earlier than April.

Among the violations cited in a preliminary report the school released in June 2006: improper transportation of prospective players from airports and on official visits; prospects receiving summer lodging without paying rent or paying an inappropriate amount; and members of the women's staff observing summer workouts of prospective and enrolled athletes.

The university released the letter sent to it Oct. 9 by Josephine Potuto, vice chair of the Committee on Infractions, that outlined the penalties and the factors considered in response to a request by the Southeast Missourian newspaper for records related to the 22-month NCAA investigation.

Smith was Southeast's coach from 2002-03 through 2005-06, before resigning. The team's 79-41 record over that span was the best in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Smith told the newspaper, "I truly wish I could, but I just can't until it's resolved."

The university self imposed sanctions when the preliminary report was made public in 2006. Dobbins said he believed similar or worse infractions had been made at other schools, and in those cases, teams were not forced to vacate records.

"We believe the actions we took are appropriate to what violations occurred," Dobbins said.

The university adopted a variety of sanctions after the preliminary report, including a reduction in scholarships and recruiting days.

But the letter from Potuto stated that the violations were numerous, serious and intentional. It cited the direct involvement of Smith and said violations involved "ineligible competition in a case where there was also a finding of a lack of institutional control."

Dobbins said, "We don't believe we received unfair competitive advantages based on these types of violations. We don't have the types of violations that raise to the level of vacating records."