DePaul coach Dave Leitao and his program are in hot water after an infraction committee found them guilty of wrongdoing.
The men’s basketball program was put on probation for three years for recruiting activity outside NCAA rules, and Leitao was handed a suspension for the first three games of the 2019-20 season for failing to promote “an atmosphere of compliance,” according to a decision released Tuesday by the NCAA.
An ex-associate head coach in spring 2016 arranged for the assistant director of basketball operations to live with a recruit, who had graduated high school, for 12 days to ensure he completed the necessary coursework to make him NCAA-eligible, according to the report.
The prospective player eventually met requirements and enrolled at DePaul.
The NCAA Committee of Infractions called this arrangement an “impermissible recruiting benefit,” which meant the player, who announced his transfer to another institution in November 2017, competed while ineligible during the 2016-17 season. As a result, the NCAA vacated DePaul’s record (9-23) for that season.
Three men’s basketball staff members were aware of this arrangement but didn’t report the violation, according to the NCAA. The director of basketball operations told the NCAA he knew the contact was a recruiting violation, but he didn’t report it in fear of being “disloyal, cause tension, get in the way of the associate head coach or otherwise hurt his career.” He also did not know how to report violations, according to the release.
The NCAA said Leitao, who is in his second coaching stint with DePaul and is 48-82 the last four seasons, was punished for failing to monitor his staff and ensure his program was compliant. The NCAA fined DePaul $5,000, plus 1 percent of the men’s basketball-program budget, which is roughly $70,800, according to the most recent figures in the U.S. Department of Education database.
While not named in the report, according to DePaul’s website, the associate head coach was listed as Rick Carter and the assistant director of basketball operations was Baba Diallo for the 2016-17 season.
In a statement, DePaul said the committee’s decision was “disappointing.” The university also said it “respectfully disagrees” with the findings against Leitao.
“This infraction was an isolated incident directed and then concealed by a former staff member that resulted in, at most, a limited recruiting advantage relative to one former student-athlete,” the statement said.
Contributing: John Silver