Southern Miss tennis hammered by NCAA for impermissible benefits

Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE

Impermissible benefits aren't limited to the money-making sports, as Southern Miss tennis just got the hammer from the NCAA over a number of major violations.

The NCAA is coming down on an athletic department for unethical conduct and promising impermissible benefits, and it doesn't involve Miami or any other football program. This time, Southern Miss tennis is at the center of sanctions. The program was cited for unethical conduct for promising impermissible benefits and academic misconduct in 2008 and 2009, the NCAA reported on Wednesday. As a result of the investigation, the Southern Miss athletic department was hit with the dreaded "failure to monitor" tag.

At the center of the impermissible benefits charge is two specific events. The seemingly less egregious of the two came when former head coach Teddy Viator offered a player $200 if they were to come back and win a match in which they were trailing. The more damning violation was likely an offer of $5,000 and a car from the coaching staff, which included assistant Marc Lux, to a player in order to prevent them from transferring.

The unethical conduct didn't stop at money and cars, and seemed to permeate every part of the program. The coaching staff encourage academic dishonesty, including paying $150 to one student-athlete to write a paper for another student-athlete. The coaches also reportedly did homework for the students, which they then turned in as their own work.

Compounding the violations, which Southern Miss reported in 2010, was an unwillingness by the coaches to participate in the investigation. One such incident even saw the coaches prompting the students to lie to investigators, while also frequently withholding information themselves.

The NCAA did not take these violations lightly, and the two coaches were handed massive show-clause penalties. Viator will carry his penalties with him for seven years, while Lux has them attached for six season. In those periods, a school will have to incur the penalties should they hire one of those coaches. As a frame of reference, former Ohio State was given a five-year show-clause penalty for violations related to impermissible benefits.

In addition to the individual sanctions, the Souther Miss tennis program also received a one-year postseason ban, four years probation, a banning from foreign tour participation until 2016, and a vacation of all wins in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season.

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