Southeast's NCAA penalties: It could have been much worse

Friday, August 14, 2009

Southeast Missouri State got off easy Thursday.

Thursday's announcement by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions could have been much worse for the Redhawks men's basketball program considering the university already was on probation.

When you look at the penalties imposed, it's hard to believe they weren't worse. The university will claim the penalties are harsh and that they've instilled fear into the department.

But why should the latest report create any fear at the university?

The men's basketball program lost one scholarship for next year. That sounds tough, but the program likely wasn't going to use it.

The program was forced to vacate wins. Another harsh-sounding one, but we're talking about 11 wins from a team that went 12-19. Now the 2007-08 team went 1-19 overall and 1-13 in the OVC. That's still better than last year, when the NCAA didn't take away a thing and the team went 0-18 in the OVC.

If the Committee really wanted to show Southeast who's boss, it would have banned the university from postseason play or something along those lines. Stop laughing. It's possible.

This was the second time in just over a year that the Committee was forced to issue a report about Southeast. When the women's basketball program was forced to vacate its 2005-2006 OVC championship, it caught my attention. When a program that finished seven games below .500 loses 11 wins, I yawn.

"I think that when you add up the penalties from the first time and penalties imposed this time, I think the circumstances at the university created a fair and appropriate penalty," said Paul Dee, the chairman of the committee.

To Southeast's credit, the two staff members identified in the committee's report as the perpetrators of the violations, former men's basketball coach Scott Edgar and former men's basketball assistant Ronnie Dean, are gone. Dean claimed, and the committee wrote it believed him, that Edgar told him to break the rules and he did for fear of losing his job. Even Don Kaverman, the athletic director at the time of the violations, is gone. But Southeast president Ken Dobbins wasn't sure how much those moves helped his university's cause with the committee.

"I don't know what they think," Dobbins said.

Southeast needs to be careful now. If there's another report of violations in the near future, the NCAA should make an example of the university. The dreaded death sentence shouldn't be out of the question if there's a third report of major violations before the probationary period ends June 17, 2013.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Commit major violations three times in five years, and it's curtains.

Southeast athletic director John Shafer claims the university has learned its lesson.

"We're going to fight like heck to go forward," he said. "We're committed to doing this the right way and moving forward."

To be fair, he wasn't at Southeast when any of the violations occurred, so he shouldn't be held accountable for them. But he admits he knew there were impending sanctions when he took the job, so from here on out anything that happens is on his watch.

Let's hope he's able to keep his department on the straight and narrow.

Let's hope he's able to avoid another trip to Indianapolis to meet with the committee.

Let's hope he doesn't lack institutional control.

If he does, the committee should slam Southeast, really make an example out of it and break out the death sentence for only the second time in history.

You got off easy this time Southeast, but you've been warned.

Kevin Winters Morriss is sports editor of the Southeast Missourian. You can reach him at: kmorriss@semissourian.com<I>

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