Southeast women's basketball team may have to vacate 2006 OVC title

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Southeast Missourian file photo Former women's Coach B.J. Smith and assistant coach Lisa Pace hold a plaque commemorating the 2005-06 Southeast Missouri State Women's basketball season Ohio Valley Conference Championship and their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. The banners - which may have to come down after the NCAA announced potential sanctions against the program on Wednesday - hang in the background.

For background see our story from September this year.

The 2006 OVC championship banner won by the Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball team should come down, according to an NCAA infractions committee. Furthermore, it shouldn't be able to claim any wins from 2002 to 2006.

According to a letter from the NCAA released to the Southeast Missourian today by Southeast Missouri State University, the committee has ruled that the university's women's basketball program should vacate all wins in women's basketball from the 2002 through the 2006 seasons. "Further, the university's appearance in the 2006 Division I Women's Basketball Championship shall be stricken as well," according to the letter, which was dated Oct. 9, 2007.

The letter listed reasons for the punishment:

* Serious intentional violations (impermissible observation of athletically related activities by the former head women's basketball coach, even after being instructed not to do so).

* Direct involvement of a coach (the former head women's basketball coach).

* A large number of violations.

* Ineligible competition in a case in which there also is a finding of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control,

when vacation or a similar penalty would be imposed if the underlying violations were secondary.

It may be some time before the punishment runs its course as the university and former head coach B.J. Smith appeal the recommendation.

A final determination isn't likely to be made until sometime late next year. The delay, the university says, is due to the fact Smith has opted for a full hearing rather than an expedited hearing.

The university had earlier agreed to an expedited hearing that was set for Saturday. Because the NCAA also has recommended sanctions against Smith, he was given the option of an expedited hearing or a full hearing.

The earliest the NCAA could conduct a full hearing, during which both the university and Smith would argue why they think the proposed sanctions should not be imposed, is next April. After the hearing, it could take several more months for the NCAA to issue a final decision, which would put off until late next year resolution of the investigation into the women's basketball program.

Check back to semissourian.com for more details and reactions as they become available.

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