NCAA hits DePaul’s Leitao with Suspension

DePaul head basketball coach Dave Leitao has been suspended for three games by the NCAA, and the program has been hit with a fine and recruiting restrictions. The full release by the NCAA is below, and the complete Public Infractions Decision can be found HERE.

A former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. Further, the committee said the men’s basketball head coach violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules when he did not stop or prevent violations from occurring in his program.

The men’s basketball program recruited the student-athlete, who had graduated from high school but had not yet met NCAA initial eligibility requirements. To help ensure the necessary coursework was completed, the committee said a former associate head coach arranged for the assistant director of basketball operations to live with the prospect. The assistant director of basketball operations did not complete the prospect’s coursework, but he monitored the recruit’s progress, limited his extracurricular activities and ensured tests were taken.

The student-athlete met eligibility requirements and enrolled at the university. Because the arrangement was an impermissible recruiting benefit, the committee said the student-athlete competed while ineligible. The arrangement also involved impermissible recruiting contact, which caused the men’s basketball program to exceed the number of allowable coaches.  

The head coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance because three men’s basketball staff members knew about the arrangement but did not report the violation or question whether it was allowable, according to the committee. Even more troubling to the committee was the director of basketball operations stated he knew the contact was a violation but did not report it because he did not want to be disloyal, cause tension, get in the way of the associate head coach or otherwise hurt his career. He also did not know how to report violations. The committee said the assistant director of basketball operations was also concerned for his future and did not question the associate head coach’s directions. According to the committee, a culture of silence pervaded the program.

The head coach did not monitor his staff when he did not actively look for red flags or ask questions about the assistant director of basketball operations’ two-week absence. The committee directed that head coaches must verify — not just trust — that staff members are following the rules. The committee recognized the head coach’s efforts to require staff attendance at compliance meetings and communicate with compliance officials, but it said he needed to do more.

“The membership requires proactive engagement from head coaches as leaders of programs,” the committee said in its decision. “The head coach created an environment where staff members did not report violations or consult with the compliance staff but chose to remain silent. The head coach simply did not ensure a compliant program.”

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Three years of probation.
  • Suspension of the head coach from the first three regular-season games of the 2019-20 season.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former associate head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
  • A vacation of records in which the men’s basketball student-athlete competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
  • Recruiting restrictions, including:
    • A reduction of six men’s basketball recruiting-person days during the 2017-18 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
    • A reduction of six men’s basketball recruiting-person days in April 2019 (self-imposed by the university).
  • A $5,000 fine, plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Jody Conradt, special assistant to athletics and retired head women’s basketball coach at Texas; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; David Roberts, chief hearing officer for this panel, senior administrator at Southern California and vice chair of the Committee on Infractions; Sarah Wake, associate general counsel and associate vice president for equity at Northwestern.

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