Creighton's men's basketball program has been placed on two years of probation and handed minor recruiting penalties for rules violations involving a former assistant coach, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.
The investigation conducted by the Division I Committee on Infractions is part of the broader corruption scandal that has engulfed college basketball since 2017, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors in New York announced the arrest of several coaches, advisors and apparel executives on charges of bribery and wire fraud.
According to the NCAA investigation, the former Creighton assistant coach, previously identified in federal indictments as Preston Murphy, "violated NCAA ethical conduct rules" by accepting payment from a business manager seeking to entice current student-athletes to sign with his management company.
The penalties assessed on Creighton's basketball program and athletics department include the two years of probation and the acceptance of minor sanctions related to recruiting already self-imposed by the school, including a reduction of one scholarship for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years and a reduction in the number of allowable official visits during the same span.
Murphy was given a two-year show-cause order, meaning any school looking to hire him during that time must "restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply."
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The violation took place "when the assistant coach accepted money from the management company in the context of the group discussing Creighton basketball players who could become future clients," the NCAA said.
While acknowledging the assistant coach "did not say much" during the meeting, which took place in Las Vegas in 2017 and also included an outside agent, the NCAA investigation found the coach did accept an envelope containing $6,000 from the business manager.
"For us, that constituted an NCAA violation," said Sankar Suryanarayan, university counsel at Princeton and the chief hearing officer for the infractions committee.
The investigation also discovered multiple occasions when the assistant misled university officials and members of the NCAA enforcement staff.
During an internal review of the men's program conducted by the athletics department in October 2018, the assistant hid the details of the meeting when asked on a questionnaire whether he had ever "received anything of value from an agent, financial advisor or apparel representative."
He made the same assertion when interviewed by NCAA staff members in May 2019, constituting a "failure to provide complete and truthful information."
However, the assistant did share details of the meeting with head coach Greg McDermott, who then informed Creighton athletics director Bruce Rasmussen. According to the NCAA, Rasmussen embarked on his own investigation without coordinating with his compliance department, during which the coach shared that he attended the meeting aware that he would be handed a payment but gave the money to the agent, described as "a close friend" to the coach.
Despite being aware the coach accepted this payment, Rasmussen decided that an NCAA violation did not occur and did not share his knowledge of the incident until March 2019, when federal indictments identified Murphy and his participation in the meeting.
Rasmussen "should have reported what he knew sooner," Suryanarayan said. "He needed to conduct a reasonable investigation and we felt he did not."
Under NCAA bylaws and guidelines, Creighton was assessed a Level I-mitigated penalty, Murphy was leveled with a Level I-aggravated penalty. Rasmussen was given a Level II-mitigated penalty. As defined by the NCAA, Level I charges represent a "severe breach of conduct" and Level II a "significant breach of conduct."
The case is part of the ongoing scandal linked to recruiting enticements and other forms of bribery that has consumed some of the biggest programs and coaches in the sport, including Arizona, Kansas, Louisville and Southern California.
The scandal led to the creation of the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, or IARP, a group of independent investigators tasked with reviewing select cases of rules violations assigned by a referral committee. IARP has conducted or is currently conducting reviews of cases involving Arizona, Kansas, LSU and others.
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