Rival coach: Southeast was lax

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Women's basketball program recently was told that it must vacate four seasons of wins under former coach B.J. Smith.

While Southeast Missouri State president Dr. Kenneth Dobbins said he was surprised by the severity of the additional penalties the NCAA Committee on Infractions imposed on the university's women's basketball program, the coach of a rival program said the university should have policed the program better.

Dobbins, in an interview Thursday, said the NCAA committee's decision to vacate all the victories from the four years of the B.J. Smith era -- 2002-03 to 2005-06 -- was stunning. The period of the penalty includes Smith's first year, after which Southeast released its own internal investigation of the program that yielded minor violations.

"They reviewed the internal investigation," Dobbins said. "I was surprised they went back for all four years. That's what we're going to be discussing with them."

Dobbins, who originally planned to make an appeals presentation today at the committee's meeting in Indianapolis, expects to be part of a full hearing that Smith requested and likely will be scheduled for April or June 2008.

Dobbins said the hundreds of pages the university, the NCAA enforcement group and The Compliance Group compiled in the report, the findings of which were also agreed to by Smith as part of the summary disposition process and accepted in September by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, give no cause for the further penalties beyond those the school imposed on itself in the summer of 2006.

But former Tennessee Tech coach Bill Worrell, quoted in the Cookeville (Tenn.) Herald-Citizen's Friday edition, said "This stunk a long time ago and people knew it."

Worrell, whose team was the runner-up to Southeast in the 2005-06 OVC tournament that led to Southeast's first NCAA tournament berth, said he likes Smith and that the people at the university are good people "but we all knew there was something that didn't smell right in Denmark."

"We knew it," Worrell added. "I even told one of the OVC commissioners at the time, 'Look, here's what we've heard. ... You better be aware.'"

Worrell, who retired following the 2005-06 season when the two programs shared the regular-season title, said the university didn't monitor the program.

"Certification is left at the university level," he told the newspaper. "If the university doesn't pay any attention to it, then the conference won't follow up on it, this is what happens after the fact. There should have been a better process during the fact, especially when red flags come up through various schools -- not just from us, but from other schools who called us."

Dobbins had initiated the OVC's investigation in January 2006 based on a series of e-mails he received from a former assistant coach that made allegations of unspecified violations.

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