The NCAA has the authority to lower the boom on OU’s men’s basketball program but there are four factors working in the Sooners favor:
1) Oronde Taliaferro, the assistant coach who committed two major infractions, resigned days after the allegations were made public in April 2010.
2) The violations were Taliaferro lying in his first interview with the NCAA and Taliaferro not reporting he knew of former center Tiny Gallon or his mother receiving an improper $3,000 loan. No one at OU, including Taliaferro, was involved in the actual improper benefit transaction.
3) A 438-page report that addressed the 16-month investigation revealed former head coach Jeff Capel was found of no wrong doing.
4) The most important factor could be new OU coach Lon Kruger has a squeaky clean image. Kruger never has had an issue with the NCAA in 25 seasons as a head coach.
Because it was the second time in less than five years the men’s basketball program was found guilty of major violations, repeat violators can face a minimum of having a sport dropped for one or two years with no scholarships for two seasons.
That is the worst-case scenario which obviously won’t happen. That type of punishment is designed for programs that intentionally cheat repeatedly without being held in check by their compliance department.
The best-case scenario is the NCAA accepts OU’s self posed penalties — vacating all wins from the 2009-10 season; adding two more years probation; take away one scholarship and two official visits during the upcoming academic year.
OU’s self imposed punishment would be a slap on the wrist, considering former coach Kelvin Sampson made more than 500 impermissible phone calls, a case that ended in 2006.
But a slap on the wrist might be sufficient considering the biggest sin was this case was a much smaller version of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel hiding facts from his compliance department. The guilty party was an assitant who resigned.
Who knows how much weight the NCAA will put on Kruger being OU’s new coach. But it certainly won’t hurt. And it could help.
That’s why a slap on the wrist might be the only punishment OU receives.