Snyder disputes NCAA conclusion on intent

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Penalized with probation and pledging better oversight of his basketball program, Missouri coach Quin Snyder disagrees with the NCAA's conclusion there was a calculated pattern of repeated rule breaking on his watch.

Snyder, a graduate of both Duke University's demanding law school and its ethics-conscious basketball program, governed by Snyder's former coach and mentor Mike Krzyzewski, said he was guilty of sloppiness -- not "wrongful intent" -- in assorted recruiting rules violations.

On Wednesday, the NCAA handed down punishment, including the loss of scholarships, for the violations, which stemmed from allegations made by former point guard Ricky Clemons. And the official university response, espoused by Snyder's boss, Athletic Director Mike Alden, was simple: "We do accept and agree with the findings."

Acceptance means there will be no appeal and the imposed punishment will stand -- including an unusual one-year ban on off-campus recruiting, a self-imposed freeze on Snyder's salary and a public reprimand for the coach.

But while Alden said he agreed with the NCAA's conclusions, Snyder did not.

Although Snyder acknowledged making mistakes, he said, "I don't believe, as I've said before and as our university stated in the case, that those violations were committed with wrongful intent, and that's my position, it's been my position. That, I think, that is a difference of opinion."

The NCAA's final report indicated more than a difference in shades of opinion. The conclusions included:

-- "Unfortunately, the facts of the case do not support such an innocuous characterization of the many violations on the part of the men's basketball staff, as a number of prospective student-athletes involved or associated with these violations ultimately enrolled and competed at the institution."

-- The men's basketball staff directed by Snyder "took risks and pushed the limits with respect to recruiting legislation, particularly while recruiting top prospects. In too many cases, the limits on permissible recruiting activity were exceeded. Viewed individually, the violations were not egregious, but when viewed in the aggregate, the violations were significant and represented an attempt to gain unfair recruiting advantages."

-- Even though Missouri had an experienced rules compliance staff that provided education and set up good procedures, "the men's basketball staff engaged in numerous recruiting violations which gave the institution an unfair advantage in recruiting top prospects."

Alden, who hired Snyder, said he stands by him.

"I have been consistent in my belief and support of Quin Snyder," Alden said, adding that "he is a person of unquestioned integrity that we are fortunate to have as our head basketball coach at the University of Missouri."

A reporter asked how it could be that Snyder's integrity hadn't been questioned, given the NCAA's conclusions that rules were intentionally violated on his watch.

Snyder replied: "I am not going to get into banter with the NCAA with you as the moderator. What I said, what I think Mike said, was he has confidence in my integrity."

But there will now be processes in place at Missouri to verify that confidence.

Snyder and his new assistant coaches (two former assistants implicated in the NCAA violations were paid to resign) must attend twice-weekly rules compliance sessions, use a new logging system for recruiting contacts so excessive or inappropriate contacts aren't made, and file annual reports to the NCAA on their compliance efforts.

Violations of Alden's confidence will also now come with harsher consequences. For the next five years, starting last Wednesday, NCAA rules violations by any Missouri athletic program -- not just basketball -- could subject the school to enhanced punishment as a repeat offender. The men's basketball program is also on three years' probation, not the two years the university wanted.

The night after the news conference, Snyder's Tigers inaugurated their $75 million Paige Sports Arena with a 100-73 exhibition win over Central Missouri State University.

Afterward, Snyder was looking ahead.

"I think our team feels good about playing," Snyder said, "and the timing of the situation was good.

"It was good to play."

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