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Baseball waits for NCAA decision on appeals

(Photo by Scott Stuk)
(Photo by Scott Stuk)

In its illustrious 50-plus year history, the ASU baseball program has reached the College World Series 22 times, with five of those occasions ending in national championships.

Due to NCAA penalties levied over winter break, the chase for the Sun Devils’ sixth title in 2011 is likely already over.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced on Dec. 15 that ASU would be banned from the 2011 postseason, among other penalties.

In its ruling, the committee determined former ASU coach Pat Murphy failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance and the university lacked institutional control.

“In committing the resources to compete at such a high level, the institution must devote significant resources to detect violations and monitor conduct with a focused understanding of what that effort entails, and what it will cost,” the committee said in its report. “In this regard, the institution fell short.”

Just four days after the penalties were revealed, ASU announced it would appeal the NCAA’s decision.

The university claimed some infractions that were characterized as major should have been treated as secondary violations.

ASU also stated it was the first to detect and investigate most of the violations.

The NCAA noted that because the university had been found to have a lack of institutional control for the second time in five years (football violations in 2005), it is considered a repeat violator.

The NCAA has 120 days from when the appeal was filed to announce its final decision.

The committee can reverse a ruling only if ASU can prove the penalties were excessive, the committee acted contrary to the evidence or the school did not break the rules.

Other penalties, some of which were self-imposed, include scholarship reduction, vacating 44 wins during the 2007 season (including College World Series games) and recruiting restrictions.

ASU was also placed on three years probation.

All of the violations stemmed from a five-year period under former coach Murphy, who was fired in November 2009.

The baseball program, among other findings, was determined to have kept poor records, made many recruiting phone calls in violation of NCAA legislation and given excessive financial benefits to players for work not done.

Under Murphy, the Sun Devils won four Pac-10 titles and made four CWS appearances.

The NCAA penalized Murphy for his role in the violations by barring him from making recruiting phone calls for one year if he is hired by another NCAA school.

“All of the violations were unintentional; my penalty of one year recruiting call restrictions indicates the NCAA realized that I was not the crux of the problem,” Murphy said on his website. “I do accept responsibility for not being well versed on some rules and interpretations, and the monitoring of my staff’s paperwork.”

He went on to say he takes no happiness from seeing ASU sanctioned.

The Sun Devils open the 2011 season Feb. 18 at home against New Mexico, and Collegiate Baseball has ASU ranked No. 11 in its preseason poll.

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