NCAA launches another probe into Southeast athletics

Monday, August 18, 2008

As if the Southeast Missouri State athletics department didn't have enough problems, now comes even more.

Last week's announcement that the NCAA again is investigating the Southeast athletics program — this time following up on new information relating to the men's basketball program — was stunning to say the least.

Sources have told me that the latest NCAA probe centers on the men's basketball program under current coach Scott Edgar and not former coach Gary Garner, whose contract was not renewed following the 2005-06 season.

The letter Southeast received from the NCAA, which was made public last week, said information that was developed between April, when university officials made an appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and June, when the committee released its report on the previous infractions, led to the new investigation.

The June report concluded a 29-month process that began with allegations about the women's basketball program, led to the finding of numerous violations under former coach B.J. Smith and also led to several penalties, including taking away the Redhawks' two Ohio Valley Conference championships in 2005-06 that resulted in the program's first NCAA Division I tournament appearance.

The investigation also included violations in the men's program under Garner in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Those violations involved the university's payment of travel costs for three players who had transferred and were not eligible to compete, but were permitted by Garner to travel to away games during that two-year period.

Southeast paid a fine of about $12,600, double the amount of the costs paid for the athletes to travel, under a recommended self-imposed sanction.

Last week's release from Southeast said the university, in addition to receiving a letter informing it of the latest investigation, also received a letter containing a case study of the men's basketball investigation under Garner's watch because Garner is disputing the NCAA Committee on Infractions' ruling that it was is a major infraction.

As to what the NCAA might uncover, your guess is as good as mine because Southeast officials and NCAA officials say they won't comment on an ongoing NCAA investigation.

The NCAA said in its letter that it hopes to complete the investigation by the fall, although considering how long the women's basketball probe took, I wouldn't count on it.

Regardless, it definitely should be interesting.

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It's almost hard to believe, but the Southeast football team is less than two weeks away from opening the 2008 season.

The Redhawks, who officially kick off the season Aug. 28 at home against Division II Southwest Baptist, are in their final week of two-a-days before the start of school Aug. 25.

Also less than two weeks off is the Aug. 30 nationally televised matchup between Missouri and Illinois that opens the campaign for those two highly regarded Division I-A squads.

Southeast visits Mizzou the following week. I'm sure the Tigers won't be too geared up for the Redhawks after facing the Illini — not that it figures to matter.

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Despite what a couple of Internet bloggers might suggest, I'd say it was another successful season for the Plaza Tire Capahas.

The Capahas went 29-7 and advanced to the National Baseball Congress World Series for the 27th straight time, splitting their four games in the prestigious tournament.

Not to make excuses, but the Capahas faced an especially rugged draw for the second year in a row.

Both of Plaza Tire's World Series losses came against the past three champions: Santa Barbara, Calif., and Havasu, Ariz.

Those teams also beat the Capahas during last year's tournament, when Plaza Tire went 4-2 to finish seventh out of 42 squads.

Santa Barbara captured this year's title Friday night, while also winning in 2006 and placing fourth last summer. Havasu claimed the crown in 2007, and finished fourth this year.

So the Capahas faced the two best squads in Wichita, Kan., from the past three years.

But like I mentioned earlier, the season as a whole was a good one for the Capahas and ageless manager Jess Bolen, who is now 1,338-348 in 42 years directing what is believed to be the nation's oldest amateur baseball team.

And the summer as a whole was filled with plenty of enjoyable entertainment — at no cost — for local baseball fans who support the Capahas.

I'm already looking forward to next season.

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The fourth annual Hal Hempen Memorial Golf Outing will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 20 at Indian Hills Golf Course in Mount Vernon, Ill.

Hempen, who played baseball at Southeast in 1986 and 1987, died in 2005 in a golf course accident involving lightning. He ranks second on Southeast's career saves list with 10 and is second on the program's single-season saves list with eight.

The tournament is part of the Hal Hempen Foundation that was created in 2005 following his death at the age of 39.

As of June, the foundation had given more than $40,000 to the Special Olympics and various other charitable efforts and scholarships.

Anyone interesting in playing in the tournament should call 618-765-2703 or 618-765-2516.

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I'm not a huge swimming fan, although I appreciate how much work goes into the sport.

But I was — like most sports fans, I'm sure — captivated by the performance Michael Phelps put on at the Olympics.

Simply amazing.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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