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49ers are hit with NCAA penalties

Times Staff Writer

The Long Beach State men’s basketball program has been penalized by the NCAA because of multiple major and secondary violations that occurred from August 2005 to August 2006, the NCAA announced Thursday.

The program will be on probation for three years, loses one scholarship for each of the next two years, is prohibited from recruiting junior college players for two years and will have to forfeit victories in which ineligible players participated.

Also, the number of official visits allowed to prospective players has been reduced from 12 to nine and two former assistant coaches are subject to a show-cause penalty, which means they must appear before an NCAA committee before they can be hired by another institution.

The violations are related to the transfers to Long Beach State of six junior college players before the 2005 season and the school was penalized for failing to adequately monitor the program.

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Sterling Byrd, Mark Dawson, Jazz Henderson, Kejuan Johnson, Aaron Nixon and Dominique Ricks were junior college transfers on the 49ers roster during the time in question.

“There were multiple deficiencies in the academic records of all six prospects at the time they were trying to transfer to Long Beach State,” said Josephine Potuto, chair of the NCAA committee on infractions. “A lot of the prospects needed to complete junior college course work and there was a lot of pressure on the coaches to see that it happened.”

In some cases, former assistant coaches paid for courses at junior colleges, the NCAA found. In others, those coaches provided impermissible tutoring and transportation as well as made impermissible phone calls.

In one case, the NCAA determined that an assistant coach administered an unproctored exam, and then signed the name of the person who was supposed to proctor.

The entire coaching staff, including former head coach Larry Reynolds, was not brought back after last season, despite leading the team to a Big West Conference title and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

New Coach Dan Monson accepted the job knowing that the program was under investigation and that the university had already self-imposed many of the sanctions that the NCAA laid out.

“We knew some of this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier,” he said.

The school is responsible for determining which games must be forfeited, but Athletic Director Vic Cegles said he doesn’t expect last season, and the Big West title, to be affected.

“We were working very closely with the NCAA during that time and we are very comfortable that we did everything we possibly could to make sure everyone was eligible during the ’06-07 season,” he said.

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peter.yoon@latimes.com


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