By Steve Ginsburg
(Reuters) - The NCAA on Tuesday banned the Southern Methodist University men's basketball team from postseason play in 2016 and suspended head coach Larry Brown for 30 percent of the team's games this season because of multiple rules violations, including academic fraud.
In addition to academic fraud, SMU was also cited for unethical conduct and a lack of head coach control, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association infraction panel.
The NCAA said a former assistant coach encouraged a player to enroll in an online course to meet eligibility standards and be admitted to the university. After enrolling in the course, a former administrative assistant received the student’s online credentials and then completed all of his coursework.
"(Brown) failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance under NCAA rules when he did not report the violations about which he knew," said Michael Adams, chief hearing officer and chancellor of Pepperdine University. "And he was not initially truthful during an interview with the NCAA enforcement staff."
Although the NCAA did not name those involved other than Brown, the investigation centered on assistant coach Ulric Maligi and player Keith Frazier.
Maligi, left SMU last season, was not cited with any violations by the NCAA. Frazier missed the second half of last season after being ruled ineligible.
Brown, 75, is the only coach to win both an NCAA title and a National Basketball Association crown. A former guard in the now-defunct American Basketball Association, Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2002.
Brown, who will miss nine games this season because of the sanction, did not have knowledge of any violation while it was occurring, the NCAA said, adding that it was unable to determine if the administrative assistant had been instructed by anyone within the program to do the coursework.
"(Brown) hired the assistant coach, the administrative assistant and recruited the student-athlete involved," Adams said. "The committee held him responsible."
Brown college coaching career includes stops at UCLA and Kansas, where he won the NCAA title in 1988, and UCLA and those schools were sanctioned by the NCAA while under his watch.
SMU will lose nine scholarships over the next three years and was placed on three years' probation. The school can appeal.
Brown, 75, arrived at SMU in 2012 after spending much of his career in the NBA and leading the Detroit Pistons to the title in 2004.
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)