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Oklahoma admits two major violations

July 29, 2011

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— Oklahoma admitted Thursday that it committed two major rules violations in its men’s basketball program as it asked the NCAA for leniency despite its second serious infractions case in the last five years.

Under NCAA bylaws, a “repeat violator” can face a minimum of having the sport dropped for one or two seasons with no scholarships provided for two seasons. The NCAA infractions committee has the authority to override such a designation.

In a summary disposition report put together jointly with NCAA investigators, the school conceded that it does qualify under the description of repeat violator — having two major infractions cases within five years in the same sport — but said previous cases show those penalties “are not appropriate in this case.”

“This is an isolated incident involving a single member of the coaching staff, who clearly knew his lack of action to prevent or report the violation was not acceptable,” the university said.

Instead, Oklahoma asked the NCAA to place the program on two more years of probation, vacate its wins from a 13-18 season in 2009-10, and take away one scholarship, two official visits and 10 in-person recruiting days during the upcoming academic year.

Athletic department spokesman Kenny Mossman said the school had no additional comment after releasing the 430-page report.

The violations occurred while the Sooners were still on probation for major rules violations involving recruiting phone calls by former coach Kelvin Sampson in a case that ended in 2006 and major infractions involving football players being paid for work they weren’t doing at a Norman car dealership in a 2007 case. There were also major rules violations by the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams considered in the football case.

In the latest case, the school said former assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro broke NCAA rules by failing to report that a player had received an impermissible extra benefit and by lying to Oklahoma and NCAA enforcement staff during the investigation.

The heavily-redacted report does not show the player’s name, but former center Keith “Tiny” Gallon has said in interviews that he took $3,000 from a Florida financial adviser to pay for his high school transcripts and allow him to attend college. Taliaferro’s phone records link him to the adviser, Jeffrey Hausinger, and Hausinger even offered in an e-mail to allow Taliaferro to stay with him.

In a partially redacted statement provided by Taliaferro for the report, he said he did wrong and calls it a “lapse in judgment” that he made out of compassion. He describes how the case is similar to how his father was murdered in Detroit when he was 6 years old.

“I know all too well about running into walls and watching my own mother fight to help get me to a better place. It is hard to not have compassion for other’s struggles,” Taliaferro wrote. “Sometimes good people make a poor decision, and that’s what happened with everyone involved in this particular matter. That does not excuse anything at all.”

Taliaferro resigned last year when it became clear he’d be implicated in the NCAA investigation.

Former head coach Jeff Capel is not implicated in the violations. He was fired in March and replaced by Lon Kruger.

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