NCAA Issues 10-Year Banishment Penalty to Coach Donnie Tyndall

Former Southern Mississippi head coach Donnie Tyndall has received a landmark 10-year penalty over a series of NCAA rules violations that occurred during his tenure there.

In fact, most experts believe that this stiff penalty, which was announced on Friday, could make it very, very difficult to Tyndall to ever return to college athletics.

Per the terms of what is essentially a ten year banishment from college basketball, Yahoo Sports noted, the 45-year-old Tyndall will be barred from participating in any and all coaching duties. Beyond this steep penalty – which would expire after the close of the NCAA Final Four in 2026 – the governing body also noted that any school that chose to hire Tyndall in any position, whatsoever, would also be required to suspend him for the first half of his debut season there. This caveat, many experts believe, could be prohibitive to him ever again even being hired.

Donnie Tyndall
Coach Donnie Tyndall stands to be suspended for ten years by the NCAA for his role in a series of academic improprieties during his tenure at Southern Mississippi. The league once firmly stood behind Tyndall as one of its top coaches. [Image by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images]
Tyndall, meanwhile, told Yahoo Sports that the 10 year penalty was “heartbreaking.” He continued, “I don’t know what to do, man. There’s nothing I want to do with my life besides coach basketball, and now that has been taken away from me.”

Tyndall continued, “Ten years? That is so over the top.”

Tyndall, of course, gets this harsh 10-year penalty for his alleged role in having his coaching staff engage in academic fraud, pushing for uncondoned financial aid for two of his athletes, and obstructing the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into the matter.

The NCAA says that Tyndall instructed both assistant coaches and graduate assistants to physically assist as many as seven college player prospects to complete any academic coursework that would otherwise keep them from being able to play for Southern Miss. This plot is believed to have begun about six weeks after the college hired Tyndall from his previous job coaching Moorehead State in 2012.

With his otherwise potentially ineligible players, Tyndall achieved a coaching record of 56-17 en route to reaching the N.I.T. quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014.

Coach Tyndall, who alleges that he had no knowledge that such improprieties were even happening beneath him, believes that a 10-year penalty is particularly harsh. The deposed coach, in particular, questions the NCAA’s reliance on testimony from Adam Howard, a former Tyndall staffer at Southern Miss who joined Tyndall for his new coaching job at Tennessee in 2014 before being forced to resign shortly thereafter after the NCAA found he lied during an investigation.

“There are over 4,000 pages of transcripts and documentation. There were over 40 people interviewed. The only person that said anything about Donnie Tyndall having any involvement in this was Adam Howard,” Tyndall told Yahoo Sports, noting that the 10-year banishment is simply unfair. “How’s the NCAA going to take the word of one guy who’s already lied to them on the record twice and only spoke to them the third time when they gave him immunity?”

At issue for Tyndall is believed NCAA proof, Yahoo Sports noted, that Tyndall paid for a graduate assistant to fly to California to help one particular player with his coursework, in addition to paying the registration fee of another’s online classes.

For Tyndall’s own part, he claims the first time he heard of any potential impropriety was during a November 2014 interview with NCAA investigators that led to his 10-year penalty.

The NCAA also claims that Tyndall fabricated a document to justify paying cash and prepaid credit card payments to two players from their former high school coaches, deleting e-mails, providing false or misleading information, and calling key figures in the investigation from a different phone line registered to his mother.

Southern Mississippi, meanwhile, although not receiving a 10-year penalty like their former coach, has been punished with a three year probation that includes some scholarship and recruiting restrictions; a two year post-season ban that has already been served; and smaller, unspecified penalties for other assistant coaches accused of academic fraud.

Academic Struggles
Could the in-classroom struggles of athletes really have led to the unwarranted assistance of the coach at Southern Mississippi? The NCAA believes so. [Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images]
“I’m stunned,” said Tyndall during a press conference in which he vowed to appeal his ten year penalty in the hopes of reducing his punishment and one day again coaching college basketball. “To hit me with ten years, it’s unbelievable.”

[Image by Tommy Gilligan/Getty Images]

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