Donnie Tyndall Gets 10-Year Show-Cause Penalty For Staggering List Of Violations At Southern Miss
Donnie Tyndall just got absolutely hammered by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and, based on the organization’s report, he may have even gotten off easy. In a ruling released Friday, the NCAA proved a pattern of rule-breaking during Tyndall’s time as head basketball coach at Southern Miss that is truly staggering.
The report, available at this link, details a flagrant disregard for the rules by Tyndall’s staff. If the Western University Dolphins and the ESU Timberwolves had an evil baby that then mated with Bud Kilmer, the offspring they produced would be something close to Tyndall’s Southern Miss program.
As soon as Tyndall arrived on campus after being hired away from Morehead State, he instituted a wide-reaching and corrupt plan to elevate Southern Miss basketball. Some of the highlights from the NCAA’s press release follow with commentary:
"The former head coach directed members of his staff to complete fraudulent coursework for seven prospects so they could be immediately eligible to compete. The activity began within six weeks of the former head coach starting at the university, involved the majority of the former coach’s staff and involved approximately half of the prospects the university recruited during a two-year period. The former head coach directed two graduate assistants and a former assistant coach to travel to two-year colleges to complete coursework for prospects."
It took Tyndall just six weeks upon arriving at the school to set up his scheme for getting prospects eligible. It took me six weeks to decide on the name of my work fantasy football team this year. (For those wondering, it was “Sexy Time Explosion”)
But seriously, Tyndall hit for the college sports cheating cycle with these infractions. The scope of it all is actually impressive. Despicable, but impressive nonetheless.
"The former head coach also facilitated cash and prepaid credit card payments to two prospects from former coaches. One former high school coach mailed the money directly to the former head coach, who would then deliver the money to the student-athlete for university bills. The former head coach stated that he discussed the arrangement with the compliance director; however, the compliance director did not recall this discussion. A year later, the former head coach used a similar arrangement for the second student-athlete and his prep school coach. He did not check with compliance to ask if the arrangement would break NCAA rules. The former prep school coach was employed by an NCAA school at the time of the investigation and did not provide certain information when requested by investigators, contrary to NCAA rules."
Paying players through former coaches? Check.
"In order to disrupt the investigation, the former head coach instructed a staff member to fabricate a document purportedly showing that the university approved the payments from the student-athletes’ former coaches. The former coach used this document to justify his facilitation of the payments, without noting that it had been created more than two years after he stated it was."
Fabricating information in order to stall the investigation and openly lie to investigators? Check.
"The former head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he deleted emails relevant to the investigation, provided false or misleading information during interviews, contacted other individuals involved with knowledge of the investigation and directed the academic misconduct."
Getting rid of key information during an investigation? Check.
"A former associate coach who directed other men’s basketball staff members to complete the coursework declined to be interviewed for the investigation, did not file a response to the notice of allegations and did not attend the hearing. One of the former graduate assistants who completed fraudulent coursework also declined to be interviewed for the investigation and did not respond to the notice of allegations."
Assistant coaches and staff members doing coursework for players, then refusing to talk to the NCAA? Check.
As a result of this insane level of cheating, Southern Miss’ basketball team will get three years of probation (from Jan. 30, 2017 until Jan 29, 2020) in addition to self-imposed penalties. The Golden Eagles will lose five scholarships over the next three years and must vacate all records during the time the violations occurred. Other than that, Southern Miss’ program got off relatively lightly, as the self-imposed penalties (which included a two-year postseason ban) were deemed mostly sufficient. Tyndall and his former staff members were not so lucky.
Tyndall was hired as Tennessee’s coach in 2014 and spent one season there before being fired as allegations of infractions at Southern Miss came to light. Unfortunately for Donnie, it doesn’t look like he’ll be coaching anywhere else for a long, long time.
The NCAA slapped Tyndall with a 10-year show-cause order starting Friday and lasting through April 7 of 2026. If he is hired by another school during that period, Tyndall must be suspended by the school that employs him until the order expires. Following that time, any school hiring him must suspend him for the first half of the first season he is employed. Translation: Matt Damon will be stranded on Mars before Tyndall can coach an NCAA basketball game again.
Two graduate assistants were also smacked with show-cause penalties – one for seven years and the other for six – for completing online coursework for prospects. An eight-year show-cause order was issued for a former associate head coach.
This is easily the most sweeping punishment we have ever seen for a former coaching staff for violations. It essentially ended the careers of those who brazenly violated the rules. I can’t disagree with any of it. All I can say is that it would have been nice if the NCAA bothered to do this kind of thorough investigation of several major programs that have been given incredibly light sentences over the past few years.