DePaul men’s basketball program placed on 3 years probation for violation of NCAA ethical conduct rules


Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Dave Leitao walks off the court at Wintrust Arena. DePaul lost game one of the CBI finals 63-61 to South Florida at the Yuengling Center on Monday night.

On the surface, the DePaul men’s basketball program has been on an upward trajectory recently. But all that momentum built up in the last few months came crashing down Tuesday.

DePaul men’s basketball head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended for the first three games in the 2019-2020 season for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance and the Blue Demons’ program has been placed on probation for three years for illegal recruiting activity, according to an NCAA release

A former associate head coach arranged for the assistant director of basketball operations to travel out of the state to live with the recruit to ensure that he completed NCAA core courses and became immediately eligible to compete, according to the release. 

“The student-athlete met eligibility requirements and enrolled at the university,” the release stated. “Because the arrangement was an impermissible recruiting benefit, the committee said the student-athlete competed while ineligible. The arrangement also involved impermissible recruiting contact, which caused the men’s basketball program to exceed the number of allowable coaches.”

According to the release, the director of basketball operations told the committee he knew the contact was a violation but did not report it because he did not want to be disloyal, cause tension, get in the way of the associate head coach or otherwise hurt his career. 

The release also stated that Leitao failed to monitor his staff when he did not actively look for red flags or ask questions about the assistant director of basketball operations’ two-week absence. 

Going along with Leitao’s suspension and the program being placed under a three-year probation, DePaul will vacate all regular season and conference tournament records and participation in which the ineligible student-athlete competed from the time he became ineligible through the time he was reinstated as eligible for competition.

DePaul also self-imposed recruiting restrictions that include reducing six men’s basketball recruiting days during the 2017-18 academic year and six more in April. The program also must pay a $5,000 fine and one percent of its men’s basketball budget. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Database, DePaul’s men’s basketball team incurred just over $7 million in expenses for the 2017-18 reporting year.   

After the NCAA released their findings, the university released a statement regarding the decision by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. 

“The decision and findings by the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI) following a self-reported infraction, and subsequent cooperation, by DePaul University is disappointing,” the statement said. “This infraction was an isolated incident directed and then concealed by a former staff member that resulted in, at most, a limited recruiting advantage relative to one former student-athlete. Since our self-report in January 2018, DePaul has cooperated with the NCAA Enforcement staff to proactively pursue the resolution of this matter and has reviewed and further strengthened related protocol and practice.

“DePaul respectfully disagrees with the COI’s findings relative to head coach Dave Leitao under the Head Coach Control doctrine. Coach Leitao is a man of character and integrity, who has the support of the administration in leading our men’s basketball program.

“In the interest of concluding the infractions process and moving forward for the men’s basketball program, DePaul has agreed to accept the penalties as described in the COI’s decision.

“DePaul would like to thank the NCAA Committee on Infractions panel for its thoughtful hearing of this matter, and the NCAA Enforcement staff for their professionalism throughout this process. The university will make no further statements about this matter.”

This past fall, DePaul assistant coaches Shane Hierman and Tim Anderson were named in the trial of Christian Dawkins, an Adidas executive convicted of bribery and wire transfer fraud, as having paid cash to the father of five-star recruit Brian Bowen II to play for their respective high school and AAU teams. They were both hired while the Blue Demons were actively recruiting Bowen II.