The University of Southern Mississippi’s men’s basketball program is under investigation by the NCAA for potential rule violations that may have occurred under former coach Donnie Tyndall.
A source close to the program told Bleacher Report that the NCAA’s investigation centers on how tuition, living expenses and other fees were paid for “Prop 48” recruits who signed with the Golden Eagles but were academically ineligible out of high school or junior college.
Even though they were not on scholarship, the players in question enrolled in classes at Southern Miss, lived in off-campus apartments and spent a year earning enough academic credits to make them eligible the following season, when they were placed on scholarship. This is standard practice under NCAA Proposition 48 rules, but the financial support these players may have received is under investigation, according to the Bleacher Report.
Most of the recruits in question come from out of state, which would make their tuition fees even higher. Along with investigating how those fees were paid—and by whom—the NCAA is also looking into the academic records of some of the players, the source said.
Three players on the Southern Miss 2014-15 roster—Shadell Millinghaus, Matt Bingaya and Davon Hayes—were Tyndall signees who entered Southern Miss as Prop 48 recruits and are now academically eligible. It is not clear if those players are among those being investigated, as Tyndall signed other players who enrolled at Southern Miss under similar circumstances but are no longer with the program.
Tyndall went 56-17 in two seasons at Southern Miss but failed to lead the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament. He left in April 2014 to replace Cuonzo Martin as the head coach at the University of Tennessee.
In a previously scheduled press conference Nov. 6, Tyndall said he would cooperate with the investigation, if asked.
“That’s all I will say or can say at this time,” he said.
Tyndall added that he has not yet been contacted by any investigators.
Later in the day, the athletic department for Tennessee released a statement regarding the investigation, according to The Tennessean.
“We are aware of the situation at Southern Miss and will not comment further until there is a resolution,” the statement read. “We have an extensive vetting process with all potential coaching candidates, including very specific conversations with the NCAA and school officials at Southern Miss regarding compliance during Coach Tyndall’stenure there, during which no issues were brought to our attention.”
In a statement, Southern Miss acknowledged that the school is “working together with the NCAA to review potential issues related to our men’s basketball program.”
This is not the first time that a Tyndall-led program has been accused of committing violations. In 2010, sanctions were brought on Tyndall’s Morehead State program for an incident that involved a booster offering improper benefits to recruits, among other violations.