Busting Brackets

Georgia Tech Basketball: Impact of Yellow Jackets accepting tournament ban

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

Georgia Tech Basketball dropped their appeal of a postseason ban, No NCAA or ACC Tournament, effectively ending the season after this week.

The Georgia Tech athletic department has dropped its appeal of the postseason ban that was placed on them by the NCAA last September. The ban was/is punishment for recruiting violations as well as impermissible benefits to Georgia Tech Basketball players since Josh Pastner has taken over.

The recruiting violations came about during the recruitment of former Duke star Wendell Carter Jr. when former Yellow Jacket and NBA veteran Jarrett Jack lent Carter a few hundred dollars to attend an adult entertainment venue during a visit to Tech. The impermissible benefits were the plane tickets, apparel and other small benefits that former players Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson received from a Pastner acquaintance named Ron Bell.

There are also allegations that Bell attempted to orchestrate former Memphis guard Markell Crawford transferring to Georgia Tech, he eventually ended up at Ole Miss.

Of course, the last violation is that former Assistant Coach Darryl Labarrie was not as forthcoming as the NCAA would have liked, and their feelings were hurt. As we have seen in the past, this is sometimes what gets coaches in the most trouble, just ask Bruce Pearl.

In the end, the NCAA decided that vacating wins, a $5,000 dollar fine in addition to 2% of the program’s operating budget, scholarship reduction, recruiting limitations, a ban from all postseason play, and show-causes for both Jack and Labarrie was a fair and adequate punishment. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury and the rest of the program formally appealed the ban in November, as the Jackets were thought to have an outside shot at an NCAA Tournament birth. The Yellow Jackets are now 15-14 overall and were going to miss the tournament regardless, barring an improbable run to the ACC Tournament title. So the dropping of the postseason appeal actually makes sense. Stansbury also told the AJC that it will continue to appeal the recruiting restrictions, which is the correct call.

So, what does this all mean? First of all, an appeal is often misunderstood. Georgia Tech is not saying that the didn’t do what the NCAA said they did. The appeal is asking the governing body to reevaluate the harshness of the sanctions imposed. Given the failings of the NCAA in regards to the North Carolina investigation, the FBI investigation, as well as the situations at Arizona, Kansas, USC, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina, it appeared as if they were looking to drop the hammer on somebody and that is exactly what they did.

The dropping of the appeal is basically meaningless at this point outside of articles such as this one that drudges up the situation and brings it to the forefront for a few days. Personally, I think the banishment from the ACC tournament is a little extreme considering that none of the kids currently on the roster had anything to do with any of this and they deserve that experience. However, the NCAA loves to punish those guilty by association instead of those that are actually guilty.

The NCAA also knows where its bread is buttered, Georgia Tech isn’t exactly a cash cow for the governing body, so why pull punches? The appeal of the postseason ban most likely would not have been reversed and if Georgia Tech had waited and not made a postseason, the ban would have extended into next season when the Jackets could contend for a tournament birth. As of this moment, the Jackets are set to return their three leading scorers and seven of their top eight in terms of games and minutes played.

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If there is one thing that should be taken away from this whole situation, it’s that you never, ever…ever, self report your violations. The NCAA doesn’t care and will burn you to the ground, especially if you are a program that is not a steady producer of revenue. As Silvio Dante’ once told Paulie Walnuts in “The Sopranos”, “you’re only as good as your most recent envelope”. Truer words have never been spoken when discussing both college basketball and the NCAA.