“I met with our men’s basketball players and coaches this afternoon to inform them of the university’s decision to withhold our men’s basketball team from postseason competition in 2015,” Southern Miss Athletic Director Bill McGillis declared in a written statement on Tuesday.
The penalties stem from allegations of improprieties given to potential student-athletes enrolled in classes during their Prop 48 year while the Golden Eagles were under the direction of current Tennessee Head Coach Donnie Tyndall.
“Props” are typically student athletes deemed non-qualifiers by the NCAA who can circumvent junior college and earn a full four years of NCAA eligibility if they pass 24 hours of college courses during their non-scholarship “Prop” year.
With a record of 5-11, and winless on the road and in Conference USA play, Southern Miss’s chances of postseason competition beyond the CUSA tourney likely ended before McGillis issued his statement Tuesday.
Tyndall led Southern Miss to a 56-17 record, and repeat NIT births, during his two-year stint in Hattiesburg before becoming the head coach at Tennessee last April.
In 2012, he took over for Larry Eustachy, who fled to Colorado State after leading the Eagles to the NCAA tournament.
In 2009, according to Southern Miss’s Office of University Communications, the Golden Eagles self-reported one secondary violation after the NCAA visited Hattiesburg to investigate Eustachy’s program.
Tyndall, whose loyalty to an active “tandem 2-3 zone”–and recruitment of a cast of off-the-reservation JUCO transfers, high-risk/high-reward “gray area” guys, “Props,” and Division 1 retreads–has established a brand of basketball that ranks his teams among the grittiest and hardest playing in the country.
In 2013, Tyndall’s team ranked 4th in the NCAA in steals. Last season, the Golden Eagles enjoyed a rebound margin better than all but 12 nationally while they again ranked in the top ten in steals. Tyndall’s Southern Miss squads led CUSA in each respective category while boasting a second place and regular-season championship in his two seasons at the helm.
The ban marks the second consecutive season CUSA will be without full participation in their postseason tournament. Last year’s postseason ban for Florida International stemmed from academic-progress rate issues inherited from NBA Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas’s three-year tenure as the Golden Panthers head coach.
“This self-imposed penalty was a painful, but necessary decision based on information gathered during the review process and available to the university at this time,” McGillis said in his statement.
While the school penalized new coach Doc Sadler and the Southern Miss players earlier in the week for an issue surrounding their former coach, one source tells Breitbart Sports that Tennessee will make a decision regarding the school’s confidence or lack thereof in their current head coach following the completion of the 2015 campaign. Tennessee is currently 12-5 (4-1 in SEC play).
Southern Miss has lost eight consecutive games and remains tied with Marshall University for last place in CUSA. The Golden Eagles play at Rice on Thursday for their first game since the school made its statement declaring a postseason ban.