PROVO — The NCAA is requiring the BYU basketball team to vacate wins during two seasons in which basketball player Nick Emery participated while ineligible due to accepting extra benefits from four boosters, according to a report released by the NCAA on Friday.
The decision could result in BYU’s basketball team vacating as many as 47 wins during the combined two seasons that Emery helped the Cougars go 22-12 (2016-17) and 26-11 (2015-16). Emery did not play in the Cougars victory against Weber State in 2015-16 (he was serving a one-game suspension for an altercation that occurred in the Utah-BYU game that year).
In a statement released by BYU, it declared the university, athletic department and coaching staff had no knowledge of the infractions and disagreed with the penalty of vacating games. But the NCAA’s committee on infractions questioned how BYU allowed a booster to get so close to its program that cash was placed in a locker belonging to Emery, and thus denied an appeal.
The NCAA report declared that four BYU boosters provided more than $12,000 in complimentary all-inclusive vacations, cash, meals, golf and use of a car to Emery in violation of NCAA rules, according to the Division I Committee Infractions panel.
The NCAA had already suspended Emery nine games this season for his role in the infractions. A junior from Alpine, Emery sat out the 2017-18 season after withdrawing from school in the fall of 2017.
One of the allegations notes that a booster gained access to BYU’s locker room and placed $200 in cash in the player’s locker. The Committee on Infractions, which studied the case, determined the university did not properly monitor access of boosters to its athletes. BYU plans on appealing the final decision.
“We are disappointed with the decision announced today by the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI). The COI review is the result of a BYU self-report to the NCAA. From the beginning, BYU has considered the possible infractions a serious matter, and we have cooperated in every way with the NCAA review. There was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the infractions. In fact, the NCAA found that Coach Rose promotes an atmosphere of compliance and monitors the program,” read the statement that was not attributed to any specific BYU official.
“The vacation-of-records penalty is extremely harsh and unprecedented given the details of the case," the statement continued. "For more than two decades, the NCAA has not required an institution to vacate games in similar cases where the COI found there was no institutional knowledge of or involvement in the violation by either the coaching staff or other university personnel. In fact, this sanction includes the most severe vacation-of-record penalty ever imposed in the history of NCAA Division I basketball for infractions that included no institutional knowledge or involvement. In addition, in the case most similar to this situation, appropriate penalties were imposed, but no wins were vacated. BYU believes the vacating of its game record penalty is unfair and not consistent with recent NCAA precedent.”
In addition to the vacation of records, the COI recommended two years probation from Nov. 9, 2018 through Nov. 9, 2020; reduction of one men’s scholarship served during the earliest possible academic year (self-imposed by the university); recruiting restrictions detailed in the public report; dissociation of one of the boosters (self-imposed by the university); and a $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
Emery allegedly accepted $10,000 worth of all-expense-paid trips, the use of a car and car insurance. Two other boosters, the report states, provided Emery golf outings and meals at a country club where they were members. In addition to one booster placing $200 cash in his locker, a fourth booster arranged a free weekend stay at a resort.
"My intentions were never to hurt the program or university," Emery said in a statement released on Twitter. "I’m grateful to Coach (Dave) Rose and the university for standing by me throughout this entire process."144 comments on this story
The committee claimed BYU received an advantage of an ineligible player for two years, who was participating after receiving benefits and continued playing during and after those seasons.
The committee was concerned over the level of “unmonitored access” the four boosters had with the prominent student-athlete. BYU officials disagreed.
“I’m very disappointed with today’s NCAA ruling," said BYU head coach Dave Rose, who was given a two-year contract extension this past week by the university. "I strongly support the university’s plan to appeal the decision.
"That being said, my focus is on our team and tonight’s game with Utah Valley.”