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PROVO — The NCAA’s investigation into the BYU basketball program has a resolution.
The overarching organization provided a detailed review of the Cougars’ case involving current guard Nick Emery and an extra-benefits scandal that rocked the university last year. Emery has been suspended for the first nine games of the 2018-19 season, as announced in a previous decision.
The investigation found that four BYU boosters provided more than $12,000 in extra benefits to Emery, including vacations, cash, meals, free rounds of golf and the use of a car, the Division I Committee on Infractions released in a public report Friday.
BYU offered two self-imposed penalties, including a $5,000 fine and the reduction of one men’s basketball scholarship, which will directly impact Emery, according to a source close to the program.
But the NCAA committee didn’t feel the restrictions went far enough and also forced the university to vacate all wins in which Emery played over the past two seasons — totaling 47 games — while also placing recruiting restrictions on the program and a two-year probationary period running through Nov. 8, 2020.
“I’m very disappointed with today’s NCAA ruling," BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement. "I strongly support the university’s plan to appeal the decision. That being said, my focus is on our team and tonight’s game with Utah Valley.”
My intentions were never to hurt the program or university. I’m grateful to Coach Rose and the university for standing by me throughout this entire process.— Nick Emery (@NickEmery04) November 9, 2018
Emery added his own contrition for the scandal, as well as a note of thanks to the university and his head coach amid the ordeal, in a post Friday on Twitter.
"My intentions were never to hurt the program or university," Emery tweeted. "I'm grateful to Coach Rose and the university for standing by me throughout this entire process."
Emery played in 25 wins as a freshman in 2015-16 and 22 as a sophomore before leaving school prior to the 2017-18 season when the school received a notice of allegations from the NCAA. He was reinstated to the university and the basketball program in June.
“BYU identified that the vacation penalty would result in the vacation of 47 victories, placing it in the top 10 of largest men’s basketball vacation penalties,” the report cited. “BYU asserted that its violations were distinguishable from the other nine schools and that the penalty was unfair to its men’s basketball coach (Dave Rose, who has a career record of 282-122 at BYU as a result of the penalty). This position misconstrues the membership’s intention behind a vacation penalty and to whom the penalty applies.”
BYU took significant exception to the vacation of wins, according to a statement released by BYU men’s basketball spokesman Kyle Chilton.
“The vacation-of-records penalty is extremely harsh and unprecedented given the details of the case,” the statement read, in part. “For more than two decades, the NCAA has not required an institution to vacate games in similar cases where the COI found there was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the violation by either the coaching staff or other university personnel.
“In fact, this sanction includes the most severe vacation-of-record penalty ever imposed in the history of NCAA Division I basketball for infractions that included no institutional knowledge or involvement.”
The full statement is available on BYUCougars.com.
Most of those benefits were given by one booster, a total amount of around $10,000 for a trip, the use of a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta and auto insurance, according to the committee. Another booster provided all-expense-paid trips to New York, Germany, California, Toronto and Texas, with additional costs including transportation, lodging, tickets to a Broadway show, an amusement park and various concerts.
“We are disappointed with the decision announced today by the NCAA Committee on Infractions,” the university’s response read. “The COI review is the result of a BYU self-report to the NCAA.
“From the beginning, BYU has considered the possible infractions a serious matter, and we have cooperated in every way with the NCAA review. There was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the infractions. In fact, the NCAA found that Coach Rose promotes an atmosphere of compliance and monitors the program.”
The committee found at least three occasions where Emery was invited by a booster to play golf at “a local country club in Provo.” The only country club in Provo is Riverside Country Club, which is the home course of the BYU men’s and women’s golf programs and has hosted numerous events for the school, including the West Coast Conference championships in 2017.
All of these infractions occurring during a time in his life that eventually led to Emery’s divorce from his wife, as he has detailed on his blog EmeryOutlive.com.
“I know there are a million reasons out there to justify ‘a divorce,’” he wrote in one post. “I totally get it.
“I can honestly tell you, I wouldn’t take one single thing back with what I went through. Why?! Because it has changed my life. It has changed how I think about people. How I treat people. It has changed the way I react to certain circumstances, it has changed my perspective on life.”
One booster left $200 in cash in Emery’s locker during practice, the report found. Another arranged for a free weekend stay at a resort. Another provided several golf outings for Emery at the Cougars’ official course.
“Although this case only involved one student-athlete, the panel was concern about the unmonitored access the four different boosters had with the prominent student-athlete,” the committee’s report read. “The panel was particularly troubled that one of the boosters had access to the men’s basketball locker room and used that access to provide the student-athlete with $200.
“Similarly, the panel notes that through a mentor-mentee program, BYU served as the origin for the student-athletes relationship with one of the boosters. Although this case was limited to boosters’ involvement with one student-athlete, it does not alleviate institutions’ responsibility to educate and monitor boosters and detect inappropriate relationships.”
The committee did not find enough evidence that BYU promotes a consistent atmosphere of failing to monitor booster involvement with student-athletes, however.
The case began in late July 2017, and after BYU hired outside counsel and underwent an internal investigation, the Cougars received a draft notice of allegations on Feb. 20, 2018. One week later, the school agreed to a summary disposition in the case, according to the committee’s report.