Northeastern placed on probation

BOSTON -- Northeastern University has been placed on probation for two years and had its scholarships and recruiting privileges reduced because of violations in its men's basketball program, the NCAA announced Friday.

The school's recruiting violations included giving unauthorized benefits to a student-athlete and banned activity by a booster, someone who helps an athletics department land new players, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions said.

The booster repeatedly e-mailed and telephoned an international student-athlete and at least one of his relatives to encourage him to travel to the United States to attend Northeastern, bought him a plane ticket and put him up in a hotel, the committee said.

The NCAA said the case resulted from the university basketball staff's failure to recognize the impropriety of the booster's involvement and a former associate athletics director's failure to question the booster's participation in recruiting activities from the summer of 2003 through Dec. 28, 2004.

It said the university's punishment would include probation from Friday to April 23, 2011; a reduction in men's basketball athletics scholarships to no more than 12 for the 2008-09 academic year, from the maximum of 13; and a reduction in the number of official visits in men's basketball to nine for the academic year, from a maximum of 12.

Northeastern didn't immediately return a telephone message left after hours Friday at its communications office. Several other offices had recorded messages saying they would be closed until Monday.

The NCAA said on its Web site Friday that the university and its former head coach didn't know the booster had bought a one-way ticket for the student-athlete so he could travel to Boston, enroll at the university and join its basketball team. It said when the student arrived in Boston, the booster took him from the airport to a hotel for a night in a room registered to the booster but paid for by the university.

It said the student made more than $201 in international phone calls using a calling card belonging to the university and that the school's former director of basketball operations made several long-distance calls while the student was present to gather information on his amateur status and academic eligibility.

Although the university didn't authorize the personal calls, the NCAA said, its former head coach and former director of operations failed to monitor the calling card and prevent the student from using it.

It didn't identify the student, the booster or any of the university officials.