The future of new men's basketball coach Quin Synder's first two prospective recruits is in question after Missouri reported possible NCAA recruiting violations.
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden notified the NCAA on Friday that the university may have violated recruiting rules by allowing the mothers of Detroit basketball prospects Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson to join their sons on a chartered plane to Columbia, Mo.
NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski confirmed receipt of Alden's information Friday. She would not speculate on when a ruling might be made or any possible implications it might hold for Missouri.
Alden said the university interpreted NCAA rules to mean a prospect could be accompanied on a noncommercial flight if the extra party paid fair market value for the ticket.
The women paid the university between $200 and $300 each for their tickets prior to flying from Detroit to Columbia Regional Airport on Sept. 17 and returning Sept. 19, Alden said.
"I feel confident in the process. I feel confident in our basketball program. And, I feel confident in the NCAA," Alden said. "Do I feel confident in a great result? I have no idea."
Although Jankowski would not comment specifically on Missouri's situation, she said NCAA rules are clear regarding transportation of prospective recruits and their relatives and friends.
A school can use commercial flights or noncommercial flights the school's own plane, charter or private planes to bring prospects to campus for official visits, Jankowski said. But relatives, friends and legal guardians can accompany prospects only on commercial flights. On those flights, the prospect's fare is paid by the school. Anyone accompanying the prospect must pay his or her own way.
"The NCAA does not support that a parent can be on a noncommercial flight," Jankowski said. It does not matter whether the parents pay for the flight, she added.
Paulding and Johnson, both seniors, orally committed to Missouri last week. But now they could be declared ineligible, at least temporarily, before the Nov. 7 signing day.
"Once an institution determines there's been a violation involving an athlete or prospective athlete, it's their responsibility to make an eligibility ruling," Jankowski said. The university would then seek to have the athlete reinstated by the NCAA.
None of this would affect a student's ability to play at another school, Jankowski said.
But Alden said Missouri had yet to decide what to do with Paulding and Johnson's eligibility.
"We don't know if an infraction has indeed taken place," Alden said. "The NCAA is the only one that can determine if an infraction has taken place."
Alden said the call to the NCAA followed one Wednesday to the Big 12 Conference, which advised Missouri tha it would be "beneficial" to notify the NCAA.
Snyder, who was heavily involved with recruiting as an assistant coach at Duke before being hired by Missouri in April, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday that he bears responsibility if an infraction had taken place.
"Unequivocally I do," he said. "I'm the head basketball coach. That's what it means to be the head coach."
Paulding, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 25.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 blocked shots last season at Detroit Renaissance High. He said having his mother on the visit made it easier to choose a college. Paulding also visited Ohio State, Miami and Michigan State, but his mother made only the trip to Columbia.
Paulding and his mother, Virginia Robinson, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the two mothers and their sons were the only passengers on the chartered plane.
"It was a nice plane," Paulding said.
Johnson, a 6-9 forward, averaged 16.4 points last season at Detroit Pershing High. He only visited Miami before choosing Missouri. Both players made an unofficial visit together to Missouri in August. But the September trip to Columbia over Parents Weekend solidified their choices.
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