- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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The NCAA continued to punish any coach or player who doesn't provide factual information during an interview with the school or enforcement, handing down a stringent 23-game suspension Friday to Texas sophomore guard Myck Kabongo.
Kabongo originally was banned for a year by the NCAA, but an appeals/reinstatement committee reduced the penalty to 23 games, which includes the 11 games the Longhorns (7-4) already have played.
Kabongo is eligible to return to the Longhorns on Feb. 13 against Iowa State with eight games remaining in the conference schedule. Kabongo will miss key conference home games against No. 9 Kansas (Jan. 19) and No. 24 Oklahoma State (Feb. 9), as well as road games at Oklahoma and Kansas State.
"Kabongo accepted airfare, personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information during two separate interviews with university officials," the NCAA said in a statement.
A Texas spokesperson said Kabongo was not truthful to university officials but did not lie to the NCAA.
"Our thoughts now are with Myck Kabongo and his family," Texas coach Rick Barnes said in a statement. "We feel for Myck. He made some mistakes early in this process, and he put himself in a tough position. That said, he was truthful and forthcoming when he talked with the NCAA."
The personal training in question took place in May when Kabongo worked out for Jerry Powell, a trainer for agent Rich Paul.
The workout was in Cleveland where fellow Canadian and current Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, also a former Longhorn, was playing. Thompson said Oct. 11 that he paid for Kabongo's expenses and was reimbursed by Kabongo's brother.
Paul's legal counsel, Fred Nance, released a statement Saturday: "We believe that this ruling by the NCAA completely exonerates the notion of any wrongdoing by my client, Rich Paul. Paul expresses his support for Myck Kabongo and his family and strongly believes in the player's future."
The NCAA said in the release that Kabongo also must repay $475 in "impermissible benefits to a charity of his choice."
Texas had self-imposed a 10-game penalty on Kabongo, who averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists as a freshman. The NCAA told Texas that a decision had been made for a full-year suspension on Dec. 14. Yet, Texas for the past week said it didn't know of a decision on Kabongo. Texas continued to say it was working with the NCAA on the process, but never said publicly that it already had been informed of the one-year suspension.
The school sent in a request for reinstatement on Wednesday, before the Longhorns' home win over North Carolina.
The NCAA said Texas sought a reinstatement request as early as Nov. 13, but the NCAA asked for more information with the "goal" of having a final decision by Dec. 19. All of the information was submitted on Dec. 12.
The reinstatement committee is comprised of NCAA member or athletic conference representatives and not the NCAA staff in Indianapolis. The NCAA staff decision initially was for the one-year ban. Friday's 23-game decision is final.
Kabongo has been allowed to practice during the suspension. He isn't allowed to include two scrimmages -- against Gonzaga and Davidson -- as part of the suspension, even though Texas held out the starting point guard from those competitions.
An NCAA waiver allowed Kabongo to travel to the Maui Invitational because no one was on campus during the Thanksgiving break. But Kabongo was denied a waiver to travel to New York for the Jimmy V Classic or to Houston. He was on the bench for Wednesday's win over North Carolina in Austin.
"We are glad this is now behind us and happy Myck will get an important part of the season back," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement. "I appreciate Myck's attitude through all of this. He has cooperated fully with the university and the NCAA and he has absolutely taken care of his business academically."
The Longhorns were counting on Kabongo to be the starting point guard for a young team that is also missing key forward Jaylen Bond, who is out with a fascia injury.
Without Kabongo, the Longhorns have struggled, losing to Division II Chaminade and USC in the Maui Invitational, Georgetown in the Jimmy V Classic and UCLA in Houston.
The Longhorns play at No. 20 Michigan State on Saturday before hosting Rice on Dec. 29. Their Big 12 slate opens Jan. 5 at Baylor.
Bond was a role player a year ago with 3.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. But Bond is clearly Texas' top frontcourt player while Kabongo is the team's unquestioned leader.
"Despite what happened, (Kabongo) has been a great leader for this team and we will count on him to continue that as we move forward," Barnes said in a statement. "When I talked to him tonight after the decision had been made, Myck's thoughts were only about our team and our program. That is a tribute to Myck and his family, and it tells you everything you need to know about Myck."
The NCAA has treated those who don't tell the truth during interviews harsher in recent cases, including a yearlong suspension for former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant. Bryant's false statements dealt with his dealings with former NFL player Deion Sanders.
Former Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl received a three-year show cause for not telling the truth about a recruit being at a barbeque.
Based on those examples, the violation -- an extra benefit for a workout, a barbeque, etc. -- seems to be treated less severely as not giving honest statements during an interview with enforcement. But NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said Kabongo's punishment "is based on the totality of the violations and not separated out" into benefits and dishonesty.
Texas guard Myck Kabongo must sit out 23 games for accepting impermissible benefits and giving false statements during the investigation, the NCAA announced Friday.