UB men’s basketball penalized for ethical conduct violation

NCAA finds former assistant coach guilty of infractions, approves penalties for 2020-21 season

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The NCAA concluded Tuesday that a former UB men’s basketball assistant coach violated NCAA unethical conduct bylaws last year when he “fraudulently created and submitted documentation for an NCAA waiver” to UB’s Athletics Compliance Office, according to a press release from UB Athletics.

A UB Athletics spokesperson declined to comment on the identity of the assistant coach. Despite not being named in the report, details point to the former assistant coach being Hunter Jenkins, who resigned suddenly from UB last November as the result of a “personal situation.”

Between June and July 2019, an assistant coach knowingly forged a written statement in support of an athlete’s transfer waiver request, created a fabricated email account to conceal his identity and submitted the written statement to the compliance office, according to the 10-page NCAA report.

On Sept. 25, UB head coach Jim Whitesell was notified of the forged statement by the “head coach at the institution from which the student-athlete transferred.” On Oct. 2, UB’s associate athletic director for compliance, Kelly Cruttenden, self-reported the potential violation to the NCAA.

When UB hired the coach, the program still had “five roster spots that it needed to fill” for the upcoming season. Whitesell tapped the assistant to be the “point person” for a “potential transfer prospect” from his “former institution.” Although not named in the report, that player appears to be Josh Mballa, who received a waiver to play for UB on Oct. 23.

Under NCAA rules, players must sit out a full season after transferring unless they obtain a waiver to play immediately.

The six-month-long investigation determined that a former assistant coach committed a “level II mitigated infraction” during the summer and early fall of 2019. The NCAA and UB agreed on the case’s facts and determined a list of penalties for the former coach and university through the NCAA’s “Negotiated Resolution” process. The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions approved the following penalties: 

1.      One year of probation for the assistant coach.

2.      UB must pay a $5,000 fine to the NCAA.

3.      Two-week ban on all recruiting communications for men’s basketball during the 2020-21 academic year.

4.      A reduction of five men’s basketball recruiting days during the 2020-21 academic year.

UB reported the violation to the NCAA enforcement staff and the Mid-American Conference on Oct. 2. The NCAA determined that the case did not involve “a lack of institutional control or failure to monitor.” 

“Thanks to our compliance staff and our head coach Jim Whitesell, we were extremely proactive with this situation and fully cooperative with the NCAA Enforcement staff during the entire process,” Athletic Director Mark Alnutt said in a statement. “As we continue to work toward a tradition of excellence, we will hold ourselves to the highest standard of ethical conduct and compliance.”

Whitesell, the leader of UB’s men basketball program, also praised UB Athletics’ commitment to reporting “unethical behavior” and thanked the NCAA enforcement staff. 

“I want to thank the hard work of the NCAA enforcement staff as well as our compliance team and the leadership of Mark Alnutt in this matter,” Whitesell said. “My staff and I made a commitment to this university: We will not compromise when it comes to compliance with NCAA rules or confronting unethical behavior. We are deeply dedicated to upholding the integrity of men’s basketball at UB.” 

The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or doing both at the same time. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.