NCAA inquiry of Syracuse under way
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University has self-reported possible violations of its internal drug policy and an NCAA inquiry is underway, according to school officials.
The NCAA told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil that Syracuse had self-reported the potential violations more than a year ago.
Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs for the university, says the inquiry does not involve any current student-athletes.
"In accordance with NCAA regulations, it is the University's practice to self-report possible violations to the NCAA. We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry," the school said in a statement Monday. "The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time."
O'Neil: Syracuse Report Sheds Light
Syracuse having self-reported possible violations of its internal drug policy and starting an NCAA inquiry sheds light on the bigger issue, writes Dana O'Neil. Blog
In a report Monday, Yahoo! Sports said a three-month investigation it conducted showed that the Syracuse men's basketball program failed to adhere to the drug policy while playing ineligible players over the past decade.
The report, which citied anonymous sources, said at least 10 players since 2001 had tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some may not have known of their own ineligibility.
The report did not identify who tested positive. Syracuse won its lone national championship in 2003.
Jim Boeheim, coach of the second-ranked Orange, was not available for comment.
Yahoo! said it reviewed Syracuse's student-athlete drug policies dating to the 2000-01 school year. They detailed the athletic department's protocol for handling positive tests, including a penalty structure for a player's first, second and third offense.
The Yahoo! report said Syracuse violated its drug policy by failing to properly count positive tests and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension. Two sources said that of the 10 players, at least one continued to play after failing four tests and another played after failing three.
If Syracuse is found to have knowingly violated its own drug policy, it could trigger the NCAA's so-called "willful violators" clause, used when there's a pattern of violations. That would allow the investigation to date back to when the infractions began.
The NCAA, when contacted Monday, issued a statement:
"Syracuse University appropriately self-reported possible violations to the NCAA several months ago and we currently have an ongoing investigation."
Several Syracuse players have had legal or disciplinary issues since 2001, including Billy Edelin, Eric Devendorf, Jonny Flynn, Josh Wright, and DeShaun Williams.
Beyond statute-of-limitations issues, the Yahoo! report says Syracuse could be charged with lack of institutional control for failing to adhere to its own drug policy, similar to sanctions recently levied against Baylor University.
Although the NCAA will be conducting random testing of every team at every game in the NCAA tournament that begins next week, schools are otherwise left to police themselves for drugs on their own terms.
The Yahoo! report comes in the aftermath of the firing of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine. He was accused of sexual molestation by a former Orange ball boy and his stepbrother. While charges have yet to be filed against Fine, he was fired in late November.
Syracuse is the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament, which begins Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. The Orange won't play until Thursday at noon.
Information from Dana O'Neil, who covers college basketball for ESPN.com, and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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