NCAA finds 'severe' recruiting violations at Georgia Tech
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By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) The NCAA has informed Georgia Tech it has found major recruiting violations committed by former assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie and a former friend of coach Josh Pastner.
The school released the notice of allegations from the NCAA on Friday. Of the three allegations, the NCAA says two are considered a "severe breach of conduct," considered the highest "Level 1" violations.
In a statement that accompanied the notice of allegations, most names were redacted. However, Pastner's former friend, Ron Bell, identified by the NCAA as a "representative of the institution's athletic interests," was said to have provided more than $2,000 in impermissible benefits to players in 2016 and 2017.
The NCAA says LaBarrie gave $300 to a recruit for a visit to an Atlanta strip club and provided false or misleading statements to the NCAA about the visit. The NCAA also says LaBarrie attempted to influence a team member to provide false information about the visit.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the details of the notice of allegations.
Georgia Tech must respond to the allegations by May 16.
The NCAA alleges a recruit received about $664 in inducements and benefits, including the money at the strip club. The NCAA said it is a "Level 1" violation because it was "intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting advantage."
The NCAA said LaBarrie's false statements about the violations and attempt to influence a team member to provide false statements also rank as top-level violations because they "involved failure of the responsibility to cooperate and unethical or dishonest conduct."
LaBarrie did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.
The NCAA classified the alleged violations involving Bell as "Level 2" and a "significant breach of conduct" because they were not isolated and were "intended to provide more than a minimal recruiting or other advantage."
The school said in a statement that accompanied its disclosure of the allegations it would not have further comment "because the NCAA process remains open."
Some of the allegations were made public during the 2016-17 season, Pastner's first season at Georgia Tech.
LaBarrie was placed on leave on Nov. 22, 2016 and he resigned on Feb. 7, 2017.
Two former players, Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson, were suspended for six and three games, respectively, early in the 2016-17 season for accepting benefits. Georgia Tech determined the players received apparel, meals and transportation.
The allegations against Bell led to an exchange of lawsuits between Pastner and Bell and his girlfriend, Jennifer Pendley.
Pastner filed a defamation lawsuit against Bell and Pendley early in 2018, saying the Tuscon-area couple was trying to defame and blackmail him by accusing him of breaking NCAA rules.
The countersuit from Bell and Pendley claimed Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley in February 2016 when he was head coach at Memphis.
Pastner denied the charge last year, saying there was "zero truth to any of those disgusting, bogus allegations. It's disgusting."
Pastner's Yellow Jackets just completed a 14-18 season with a first-round loss to Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Pastner led Georgia Tech to 21 wins in his 2016-17 debut, including a spot in the NIT finals, before back-to-back losing records the last two seasons.
Georgia Tech suspended women's coach MaChelle Joseph on Feb. 27 for what the school says is a "pending personnel matter." Joseph's attorney, Lisa Banks, said in a statement Friday the allegations against the men's program reflect a double standard.
Banks' statement said Joseph "remains suspended for reasons that have yet to be disclosed to her or to the Georgia Tech community. The hypocrisy is stunning. Georgia Tech's actions with respect to coach Joseph are emblematic of the persistent double standard for men and women across collegiate athletics."
Last month, Banks said Joseph is left to assume her suspension was retaliation for her concerns about gender equity.
A Georgia Tech spokesman said following Joseph's suspension the school doesn't comment on pending personnel matters.
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Updated March 15, 2019