Georgia Tech basketball hit with 2020 postseason ban by NCAA

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Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner watches his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Georgia Tech, entering its fourth season under Josh Pastner, will be banned from postseason play in 2019-20. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

The Georgia Tech men’s basketball program has been banned from 2019-20 postseason play by the NCAA stemming from violations found by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

The postseason ban, part of an array of sanctions levied to Josh Pastner’s program, comes as the result of impermissible benefits provided by two boosters for the program. On top of the postseason ban, the Yellow Jackets were hit with four years of probation, a reduction of one scholarship each year for the length of probation, a vacation of records in which ineligible players participated and several recruiting restrictions.

“Both sets of violations occurred because men’s basketball coaching staff members invited outside individuals into their program,” the committee said in its decision. “They permitted these outside individuals to interact with their student-athletes, and those actions resulted in violations.”

Recruit taken to strip club by NBA player

In one instance, a former Yellow Jackets assistant coach arranged for a recruit and his host, a member of the Georgia Tech team, to “interact with a booster,” who took them to his home, a strip club and treated them to a “free meal at a lounge owned by a local NBA player.” This particular booster “was a former Georgia Tech student-athlete and at the time played for the local NBA team.”

Per the NCAA, he (reportedly longtime NBA guard Jarrett Jack) provided the recruit (Wendell Carter, who played a year at Duke before moving on to the NBA) and his host “with $300 each to spend at the club.” Now Georgia Tech must disassociate from the booster for three years.

“The committee stated firmly that adult entertainment has no place in the recruiting process because coaches and others in a position of trust are responsible for the well-being of high school students visiting their campus,” the NCAA said in a press release.

The NCAA said the former assistant coach, Darryl LaBarrie, did not cooperate with its investigation and initially denied involvement. He later “admitted that he arranged the impermissible activity” and also “tried to get the student-athlete host to lie about what happened.” LaBarrie, who resigned in 2018, was hit with a three-year show-cause penalty and a three-year disassociation.

Former friend of Josh Pastner implicated

Another part of the NCAA’s case involved Ron Bell, a former friend of Pastner’s who the NCAA ruled to be a booster. The Committee on Infractions found that Bell interacted with Georgia Tech players, though Pastner “repeatedly cautioned the booster never to provide anything to student-athletes.” However, Bell was found to have “provided two men’s basketball student-athletes and a potential transfer student-athlete with $2,424 in shoes, clothes, meals, transportation and lodging.” Bell also “directed the student-athletes to never tell (Pastner) about the gifts and benefits,” the NCAA said.

Bell “maintained a personal friendship” with the potential transfer, a relationship Pastner was aware of but did not report to compliance because he did not believe Bell qualified as a booster. But when Pastner and Bell had a well-publicized falling out, Bell told Pastner about the impermissible benefits. Pastner then reported Bell’s activities to Georgia Tech officials.

Pastner was the head coach at Memphis from 2009 to 2016 before moving over to Georgia Tech. He has a 48-53 record in three seasons with the school, which has not played in the NCAA tournament since 2010. The Yellow Jackets went 21-16 and finished as the NIT runner-up in Pastner’s first season, but have a combined 27-37 record in the two seasons since.

The violations for Georgia Tech come on the heels of Kansas being given its Notice of Allegations earlier this week. Yahoo Sports reported Monday that Kansas has been charged with lack of institutional control, three Level I violations in men’s basketball and a head coach responsibility charge against Bill Self.

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