Saturday, February 6, 2016

Harvard basketball admits secondary recruiting violation

Harvard's basketball program has declared that it committed a secondary recruiting violation in the summer of 2007, the Ivy League office said in a statement.

Harvard basketball admits secondary recruiting violation


Harvard's basketball program has declared that it committed a secondary recruiting violation in the summer of 2007, the Ivy League office said in a statement.

This is big news to people who follow the Ivy League, as you may remember that Harvard was originally cleared of any wrongdoing by the league during its initial investigation in 2008.

The investigation was launched after the New York Times reported on some recruiting tactics that may have violated NCAA and Ivy League recruiting rules. Those tactics included potential attempts to skirt the Ivy League's Academic Index rules on recruits' academic profiles, and visits to prospective Harvard recruits by current Crimson assistant coach Kenny Blakeney before he was hired by the program.

The former issue was rendered irrelevant when the recruits in question did not enroll at the school. Most notable among those players is Frank Ben-Eze, who ended up at Davidson.

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But the Blakeney issue was never fully resolved in the eyes of many observers, myself included. Although the Ivy League's original conclusion in 2008 stated that no violations had occured, the Times story made a pretty clear inference that Blakeney had tried to influence potential Harvard recruits before he became an employee of the basketball program.

I have copied the Ivy League's statement from today below.

Ivy League Statement on Harvard Men's Basketball

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The Ivy League and Harvard University announced today that Harvard has declared an unintentional secondary violation in connection with conversations in the summer of 2007 between current Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Kenny Blakeney and members of the Harvard coaching staff that occurred before Mr. Blakeney was employed by Harvard.

“Secondary violations” are by NCAA definition “inadvertent” and deemed to provide at most a “minimal advantage” to the institution. They are also routine for all Division I members, including Ivy League institutions; the NCAA processes over two thousand secondary violations annually. While Harvard and the Ivy League do not ordinarily release information related to secondary violations, they are doing so in this case in view of prior publicity in 2008, when the Ivy League released a statement that its inquiry into these matters found no violations of Ivy League or NCAA rules.

This revised conclusion reflects conversations between Harvard and the NCAA subsequent to Harvard’s submission of the initial report to the Ivy League on this matter and its acceptance by the Ivy League Office. The NCAA staff agreed with the Ivy League’s and Harvard’s original conclusions that at the time of the conversations Mr. Blakeney had not been offered employment and did not have an employment agreement, and that any violation was “secondary”. However, under the NCAA’s interpretation of its rules, Mr. Blakeney’s conversations with the Harvard coaching staff during a time when he was independently observing prospective student‐athletes required a finding of improper recruiting assistance to Harvard. After these discussions with the NCAA, Harvard elected to acknowledge a secondary violation and to self‐impose recruiting limits for the 2010-2011 academic year.

During the Ivy League inquiry in 2008 current Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris, while in her previous position with the Ice Miller law firm, represented a Harvard coach. Ms. Harris’s role in this case ended in September 2008, at the conclusion of the Ivy League’s initial review, before she applied for the Executive Director position. She recused herself from any consideration of the NCAA matter and has not been involved in any manner in subsequent developments or decisions.

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Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

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