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Larry Brown on SMU postseason ban: 'Penalty has to fit the crime'

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Did SMU's punishment fit the crime? (2:24)

Andy Katz and former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio debate if SMU being banned from postseason play is an appropriate punishment for the NCAA violations they were accused of. (2:24)

SMU coach Larry Brown vented when asked about the Mustangs' postseason ban, saying that the NCAA's punishment of his program doesn't "fit the crime."

Brown addressed the sanctions Tuesday during a conference call with Connecticut reporters ahead of Thursday's game between No. 21 SMU and UConn.

The Mustangs were banned from postseason play and Brown was suspended for the first nine games of the season after a September report when the NCAA ruled that a former men's basketball administrative assistant completed online course work for a student to meet eligibility requirements.

"What we were accused of doing, we should have gotten penalized," Brown said Tuesday. "Our secretary did an online course for a kid -- it wasn't an SMU course, he didn't even need the course. ... To say there was a 'lack of compliance' is a big bunch of bull.

"For us to get penalized the way we did -- punish the coach, I get it. They [the NCAA] wouldn't do that to a power conference [school]. They punish kids that had nothing to do with what happened. Yeah, punish us because we did something wrong. But don't put us in a box with everybody else. The penalty has to fit the crime. ... When the NCAA said it's about the student-athlete, they didn't think about SMU."

The Mustangs won their first 18 games this season and enter Thursday's contest with a 21-3 overall record, including a 9-3 mark in American conference play.

SMU is one-half game behind Temple (16-8, 10-3) for first place in the conference and is one-half game ahead of the third-place Huskies (19-7, 9-4).

"When we found out the penalty, which blew everybody away, the kids talked about trying to win the conference outright," Brown said. "I didn't want to change that.

"I think my job, the job of the coaching staff, is to get ready for each game -- that game is really important, and to have a good year for the seniors. That's what we've kind of focused on."