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September 12, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Friday, September 12th

Bulldogs in Doghouse: The NCAA put Fresno State on four years’ probation Wednesday for numerous violations from 1995 to 2002 – basically the reign of Jerry Tarkanian. The NCAA levied charges of academic fraud, failure to report violations, and the famous “lack of institutional control”. The NCAA found that coursework was done for two players in 2000 by an academic adviser and a team statistician, a player was given financial aid without being a full-time student in 1999, plus general cash payouts and free meals to students. While most of the violations were for the men’s basketball program, the NCAA found violations in men’s soccer and women’s basketball. The probation is retroactive to December 2002, when the school penalized itself with two years’ probation, banning the men’s basketball team from the postseason and cutting three scholarships. The NCAA added two more seasons, and also vacated the 2000 WAC Championship, the school’s 2000 NCAA appearance, and required the school to pay back 90% of prize money, but the Bulldogs will be able to participate in this season’s postseason.

Bulldog Dismissed: Georgia senior center Steve Thomas, the Bulldog’s top rebounder last season, has been dismissed from the squad by new head coach Dennis Felton. Thomas, who averaged 10 points and 7 boards per game last season, was one of three Georgia student athletes charged with sexual assault on campus last year, but the charges were dropped. One of the other players was Tony Cole, who dropped the bombshell of academic fraud and illegal benefits that cost former head coach Jim Harrick his job in March. Though the school declined to comment on the specific reasons for Thomas’ dismissal, he had several clashes with Felton, and Felton had said that Thomas had been “unable to operate at the new standards which we’ve set for Georgia basketball.”

Feeney Intoxicated: An official autopsy has revealed that former New Mexico forward Billy Feeney was intoxicated at the time of his suicide last month. Head coach Ritchie McKay said he received a call from Feeney saying that he was headed home to take care of personal matters. The call was made to McKay at 4 a.m. August 28th. Ninety minutes later, Feeney’s body was discovered in downtown Albuquerque near the bus station. Feeney’s mother told the Associated Press that he may have been despondent about a breakup with his girlfriend the previous night.

Stag Tampering?: There may be a new wrinkle in the Fairfield infractions investigation. Now pay attention. The Connecticut Post is reporting that former UNLV coach Bill Bayno contacted ex-Stag Darren Phillip, one of the top all-time Fairfield players. Bayno wanted Phillip, who played for Fairfield from 1996-2000, to convince Oscar Garcia, one of several ex-players to allege rules violations at Fairfield, to change his story. If Garcia changed his story, it would reduce the impact the allegations would have on Stag coach Tim O’Toole’s career, under whom the alleged violations occurred. Neither O’Toole nor Bayno, who coaches the Yakima Sun Kings of the CBA, were available for comment.

Sloan Vote: The Baylor board of regents will determine the fate of school president Robert Sloan today. The 36-member board will hold a closed-door session could vote to remove Sloan, who has been the target of increased scrutiny on the Baylor campus. Tuesday, the faculty senate voted 26-6 for Sloan’s removal, and five regents and three former chairmen have moved for his resignation. Meanwhile, the student senate is still in favor of Sloan keeping his job.

Lobo Sentenced: Former New Mexico point guard Marlon Parmer has been sentenced for domestic violence charges in a case dating from 2000. Parmer, who received a suspended sentence for five misdemeanor charges and also completed an anger management course, was accused of harassing a female New Mexico student for three months in the late summer of 2000. Parmer later quit the Lobos team after a disagreement with then-coach Fran Fraschilla, and transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan, where he was named the Division II player of the year this past season on the national runner-up team. However, Kentucky Wesleyan was found to have used two ineligible transfer players this past season, and had to forfeit all wins and their runner-up appearance. Parmer was thought to be one of the two players in question, along with former Rutgers transfer Eugene Dabney.

ETSU Extended: The Southern Conference has granted East Tennessee State a two-year extension on withdrawing from the conference and finding a new conference home. As always with conference re-alignments, it all comes down to football. Last May, ETSU announced that this current football season would be the program’s last, which would then violate the SoCon bylaws, which state that a school must offer men’s basketball, football, and four other championship sports. With the extension, the Buccaneers can stay in the conference until the end of the 2004-05 academic year.

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