At 25-5 overall (13-2 WCC), Saint Mary’s is in the midst of yet another successful season in the West Coast Conference, despite playing second fiddle once again to a Gonzaga squad that’ll soon be the top-ranked team in college basketball. Luckily for the Gaels, their success this season won’t go by the wayside.
Earlier today, Saint Mary’s found out the hard truth that so many major programs have already found out–the NCAA has no favorites. Like I mentioned, they’re eligible this season to compete in whatever postseason tournament they get into, but beginning next year, it’ll be a harsh reality. The sanctions resulted from improper recruitment of international players by a former assistant coach and for head coach Randy Bennett‘s “failure to monitor and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”
The NCAA laid down some pretty harsh penalties on a school that already has problems competing with other programs out West. Four years postseason probation. A five-game suspension for head coach Randy Bennett, to be served next season. Reduction in scholarship from 13 to 11 for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
And it gets worse.
For a program that relies so heavily on bringing in players from overseas, the foreign tour ban until the 2017-18 season is immense–Saint Mary’s has four players from Australia and one from Lithuania on this year’s team. No more team trips to play abroad, to have these foreign players see the Gaels in action.
No skill instruction during the offseason portion of the school year is another blow to a program that so heavily relies on player development. They’re limited to practice following the “Midnight Madness” or “First Night” festivities so many schools have to kick off the basketball season. They’re not getting the 5-star recruits that a UCLA or Arizona get, they need the offseason.
The Gaels are also prohibited from participating in any preseason tournaments like the Maui Invitational or the Old Spice Classic or the Paradise Jam. For mid-majors trying to bolster their non-conference schedule, these tournaments are the perfect platform for resume-building wins.
Bennett may not recruit off-campus for the 2013-14 season. I’m not sure if his assistants can, but my guess is no. It’s hard to recruit from your office–it’s not as if student-athletes just come knocking on doors, coaches have to go out an see them play.
Saint Mary’s had better put together something magical this year because stud point guard Matthew Dellavedova‘s 16+ points and 6+ assists per game are gone after this season. His loss coupled with the recruiting limitations and postseason ineligibility will make things incredibly difficult for a small school like Saint Mary’s to endure.
Follow Ryan Darcy on Twitter: @Ryan_D_Rants