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NCAA finds high-level violations at Georgia Tech


Georgia Tech has been served by the NCAA with a notice of allegations regarding alleged recruiting violations committed by former assistant basketball coach Darryl LaBarrie and Ron Bell, the former friend of coach Josh Pastner. The NCAA’s enforcement staff found two of the three allegations to constitute severe breaches of conduct (Level I violations), which are the highest level of violations in the NCAA’s structure.

The first sentence of the notice reads as follows: “Based on the information contained within the following allegations, the NCAA enforcement staff believes this case should be reviewed by a hearing panel of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions pursuant to procedures applicable to a severe breach of conduct (Level I violation).”

The school is expected to make an announcement about its reception of the notice Friday.

In an email, an institute spokesman said that “Because the NCAA process remains open, Georgia Tech will not have further comment at this time.” The statement said that Tech has until May 16 to respond to the NCAA’s allegations.

Thursday night, Pastner was at the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C., as an observer. He declined comment.

Pastner’s attorney Scott Tompsett issued a statement late Thursday: “Josh cooperated fully with the NCAA investigation and he has not been charged with any violations.”

The NCAA found that in November 2016 – six months after his hire to join Pastner’s staff – LaBarrie took a prospect on an official visit and a team member to a strip club and facilitated an improper recruiting contact with a person described in the notice as a representative of the school’s athletics interest. It also found that the prospect and team member were provided by $300 cash, though not by LaBarrie. (All names in the report but LaBarrie’s and Bell’s were redacted.)

Further, the NCAA alleged that LaBarrie provided false or misleading information to the NCAA and institute regarding his knowledge and involvement of the violations alleged, attempted to influence the team member to provide false or misleading information and further tried to conceal his attempt to influence the team member.

He did so, the NCAA found, even after being told not to speak with others about the matter. LaBarrie was placed on administrative leave in November 2017 and resigned later in the season.

The NCAA found that LaBarrie’s actions may merit a show-cause order, meaning that any penalty assessed to him will follow him for a designated period of time no matter what school hires him.

LaBarrie was reached for comment late Thursday.

“My comment is these allegations are not all factual and the truth will come to light when I meet with the committee,” LaBarrie wrote in a text. “People who know me know my character and what I stand for. This is all part of my journey as a God-fearing man and this has made me a better person, father, mentor and coach.”

LaBarrie went on to thank those who had supported him and said that “This will all be over soon and will not define me as a person or a coach.”

He also wrote that he wanted to make it clear that he knew Bell but never had “any serious interactions with him” and asserted that he “did not bring him around the GT program” or have knowledge of his interactions with Tech players.

While Tech contended that Bell was not a booster, the NCAA found that he was a representative of the school’s athletics interest, which makes the violations that he committed – paying for flights for former team members Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson to visit him in Arizona – and his attempts to influence former Memphis player Markel Crawford to transfer to Tech while Crawford was still in school – actions taken on behalf of Tech.

The notice found that Bell provided Okogie and Jackson with shoes, clothing, meals and travel expenses worth in excess of $1,400 – evidence that Bell himself made public in November 2017 after his falling out with Pastner. The notice also alleged that Bell purchased plane tickets for Crawford – whose name is redacted, but Bell has documented his attempts to influence Crawford in his ongoing legal saga with Pastner – and his brother worth $883 before cancelling them when Crawford elected to transfer to Mississippi. The notice also stated that Bell sent hundreds of text messages to Crawford beginning in Feb. 6, 2017, while Crawford was still at Memphis.

Tech will be required to provide a response to the NCAA regarding the veracity and agreement with the allegations. The school will have until May 16 to respond.

The notice does not place blame upon Pastner or name him in the report. It cites “prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties” as a mitigating factor.

Tech provided a copy of the notice of allegations in response to an inquiry from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The full statement:

“The Georgia Institute of Technology is announcing Friday that it has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

“The notice, which alleges three violations of NCAA rules within Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball program, was received following a joint review by Georgia Tech and the NCAA. A notice of allegations is a step in the NCAA’s process of investigating potential rules violations, but the process is ongoing. Georgia Tech has until May 16, 2019, to respond to the allegations. 

“Because the NCAA process remains open, Georgia Tech will not have further comment at this time.” 

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