The plug has officially been pulled on the promising, young career of basketball coach Donnie Tyndall. The NCAA announced that they are giving Tyndall a 10-year show-cause penalty for the violations he committed during his time as the head coach of the University of Southern Mississippi’s men’s basketball program. This means that he cannot perform any form of coaching duties for any school that employs him. In addition, when this time is over, he must be suspended for half of the season by whatever school employs him.
For a coach, this is the equivalent of when the NCAA gave SMU the infamous “death penalty” where the school was not allowed to field a team for the 1987 season, eventually leading to the downfall of a respectable program that many say still hasn't fully recovered.
The 45-year-old coach worked his way from the junior college ranks all the way to a big-time job in the SEC coaching Tennessee. Now it appears as though he will never coach at the collegiate level again.
This all stems from improper benefits and academic fraud that he helped facilitate during his time at Southern Mississippi. He had staff members handle the classwork of seven prospects so they would become and remain eligible, arranged payments for two prospects using cash and prepaid cards and tried to cover all of this up by having a member of his staff make fake official documents and provide false statements in interviews during the NCAA’s investigation that began in 2014.
There are rumors that the money was to help the athletes pay for fees that they were unable to afford — which is completely fine in my opinion. If the rumors are true, then it proves that it is time for athletes to get some sort of consistent monetary compensation, but that is an argument for another day.
The academic fraud and cover-up are unacceptable and deserve punishment, but does the punishment fit the crime? The only other coach to get a 10-year show-cause was former Baylor men’s basketball coach David Bliss who despicably tried to cover-up the murder of one player by another player.
Tyndall’s actions are in no way comparable to what Bliss did, yet they received a similar penalty. You know whose actions are comparable to Tyndall’s? A guy by the name of Jim Boeheim who just got done coaching in the Final Four after a mere nine-game suspension and some limitations in recruiting.
What about UNC? They just got done playing for a national championship even though the university made up classes for their athletes to take just so they could maintain a good enough GPA to stay eligible. In the NCAA’s report on Tyndall, they say that he "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance," but what UNC did was on a grander scale. Their atmosphere of compliance was much worse than it was at Southern Miss, yet they have not received a single penalty to date relating to this revelation while Southern Miss is coming off of a self-imposed two-year postseason ban.
The difference between Tyndall and Southern Miss compared to Boeheim and UNC is that Tyndall and USM are the little guys. They aren’t making the big bucks for the NCAA like Syracuse and North Carolina basketball were. They were easy targets for the NCAA to flex their big, bad muscles and make an example of the two without any real repercussions.
This is just one of many examples where the NCAA shows their true colors of greed, ineptitude and cowardice by bullying the little guy and letting the big programs get away with the same thing with nothing more than a slap-on-the-wrist punishment.
I wish all the best for Donnie Tyndall and hope that he is able to continue pursuing his passion of basketball in some manner after the NCAA tried their hardest to strip him of his opportunity. One day, the NCAA will regret rulings like this because, soon enough, programs, athletes and coaches will unite and break away from this malignant entity that currently rules over college sports with the almighty dollar in the forefront of their mind rather than the student-athletes and coaches who make them all of this money.