NCAA punishes DePaul for recruiting violation

DePaul head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended for the first three games of the 2019-20 season for failing to monitor his staff after a former associate head coach gave impermissible benefits to a recruit, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions announced on Tuesday.

Per the NCAA release, a former associate head coach, who received a three-year show cause order, arranged for the assistant director of basketball operations to live with a prospect who'd failed to meet NCAA eligibility requirements and had to take additional measures to complete the coursework to gain eligibility. The assistant director of basketball operations lived with the prospect for two weeks.

"The DePaul program needed size," said Dave Roberts, committee on infractions vice chair during Tuesday's conference call. "And it continued to recruit the prospect after warnings that the prospect may not meet NCAA requirements."

The NCAA said the former assistant director of basketball operations knew he was committing violations but said he didn't want to risk his job or break the code of "silence" within the program. Per the report, he did not do the coursework for the prospect but he made sure the player completed the requirements and completed the tests, while "limiting his extracurricular activities" as he tried to become eligible.

The NCAA also placed the school on three years probation and forced the program to vacate all games the prospect participated in. The report also concluded that Leitao "could have stopped or prevented the violations if he promoted an atmosphere of compliance or monitored his staff."

DePaul subsequently announced it will accept the committee's findings and the punishments attached to them, although the school said it does not agree with the suspension of Leitao.

"The decision and findings by the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI) following a self-reported infraction, and subsequent cooperation, by DePaul University is disappointing," the school said in a statement. "This infraction was an isolated incident directed and then concealed by a former staff member that resulted in, at most, a limited recruiting advantage relative to one former student-athlete. Since our self-report in January 2018, DePaul has cooperated with the NCAA Enforcement staff to proactively pursue the resolution of this matter and has reviewed and further strengthened related protocol and practice. DePaul respectfully disagrees with the COI's findings relative to head coach Dave Leitao under the Head Coach Control doctrine. Coach Leitao is a man of character and integrity, who has the support of the administration in leading our men's basketball program."

The school said it accepted the committee's findings, however, because it wants to move "forward."

Questions remain about whether the school will have any dealings with the NCAA following its alleged connection to the FBI investigation that rocked college basketball.

During one of the federal trials for Christian Dawkins, Merl Code and James Gatto -- the three men at the center of the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball -- in October, Brian Bowen Sr. testified that DePaul assistant Shane Heirman paid him $2,000 a month so that his son, Brian Bowen Jr., would attend La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana, where Heirman was the head coach at the time.

The five-star recruit had previously played in Saginaw, Michigan.

Brian Bowen Sr. also testified he was paid $5,000 to $8,000 per month to have his son play for Chicago's MeanStreets program, which was led by DePaul assistant Tim Anderson at the time. Bowen Sr. did not name Anderson by name. But he answered "yes" to questions from Dawkins' defense attorney, Steve Haney, about whether he accepted $1,500 from Anderson, another $1,400 to live in a condo by the lake while his son played at La Lumiere and $5,000 from former NFL player Tai Streets, who was affiliated with Meanstreets.

The school has said it has not been contacted by the NCAA regarding the FBI investigation.