NCAA puts University of Hawaii men's basketball on probation

Dec 23, 2015 - 3:34 AM HONOLULU (AP) The University of Hawaii men's basketball team was put on three years of probation Tuesday by the NCAA after an investigation found former coach Gib Arnold violated ethical conduct rules and provided false or misleading information.

Hawaii will lose two scholarships during the next two seasons, leaving it with 11, and cannot play in postseason games during the 2016-2017 academic year. The NCAA approved a $10,000 fine that the university previously imposed on itself. Hawaii also must pay a penalty equaling 1 percent of the basketball program's budget over the previous three years.

Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said attorneys are reviewing the decision, but the university doesn't plan to appeal. He said the athletic department added a staff position to focus on rules education, and has increased efforts to inform boosters of the rules and make student-athletes more aware of them.

He voiced confidence in the basketball program improving under Eran Ganot, who was hired as the new coach in April.

''While we are disappointed with the postseason ban, and the impact on current student-athletes and our great fans, we accept the penalties and continue to move forward with Eran Ganot at the helm,'' Matlin said.

Hawaii has been under investigation since March 2014, after the school reported a former assistant men's basketball coach altered and submitted a fraudulent financial document on behalf of a recruit.

Arnold's attorney, James Bickerton, said in an email that his client was pleased the NCAA found no Level 1 violations - the most serious of the association's four tiers of infractions - as he had been saying.

Bickerton said the NCAA accepted Arnold's testimony on events and rejected the testimony of his main accusers on the factual points he disputed. The NCAA also recognized Arnold was poorly supported by the university's compliance department, the email said.

The university fired Arnold in October 2014 amid the investigation. But Arnold filed a grievance with the state government employees union, claiming the university had violated his 2011 contract by firing him without cause.

The university sued Arnold for fraud and negligence and asked the court to weigh in on the grievance. It ultimately agreed to a $700,000 settlement, which included paying Arnold $500,000 over three years and $200,000 to his attorneys.

The NCAA said the violations included:

-Arnold allowed the director of basketball operations to scout and instruct players on the court even though this caused the team to have more coaches than permissible.

-Arnold provided false or misleading information about the director of operations' participation in scouting and practice.

-Arnold told a former student-athlete who used a booster's car to stop driving it, but didn't report the incident to anyone in the athletic department. The student continued to compete, even though he was ineligible to do so. The report said Arnold asked the team to keep the issue ''in house.''

-A former assistant coach knowingly altered an admission form to help a student-athlete gain entrance to the school.

The NCAA penalties were determined by a panel of the Division I Committee on Infractions.

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