The NCAA denied St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett’s appeal to overturn his penalties for major recruiting violations on Oct. 14. As a result, Bennett must serve a five-game suspension and will not be able to recruit off campus this season. In a separate appeal by the school, Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the reduction of men’s basketball scholarships issued by the Committee on Infractions.
In making the announcement from the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, the athletics governing body denied Bennett's appeal that included the claim of a procedural error involved. Bennett will serve his suspension starting Dec. 30 at midnight.
In March 2013, the Committee on Infractions found the school failed to monitor its men’s basketball program and a former assistant men’s basketball coach acted unethically in his recruitment of international prospects. Additionally, the head men's basketball coach was cited for a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance as well as arranging impermissible training and coaching sessions.
The NCAA put Saint Mary's on four years of probation forand reduced scholarships by two for the 2014-15 and 15-16 seasons. The NCAA also sanctioned a former assistant coach with a two-year show cause penalty.
St. Mary’s, which finished last season with a 28-7 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, will be allowed to participate in the league tournament and the NCAA tournament. The Gaels, however, can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments they're not already contractually obligated to attend.
Bennett is entering his 13th year with the Gaels and is the school’s all-time leader in wins with 263. He has led St. Mary’s to five NCAA tournament appearances and two WCC crowns.
The Gaels return three starters, including 6-4 senior guard Stephen Holt. Holt, who is the team’s leading returning scorer at 11.6 points a game, will be expected to carry the majority of the offensive workload. St. Mary’s also has sharpshooting 6-7 senior forward Beau Levesque, who made 45 percent of his triples, and 6-9 junior center Brad Waldrow (10.2 points and 6.0 rebounds) returning.