The SMU men’s golf program will be ineligible for postseason play this season after the NCAA found multiple violations involving recruiting and unethical conduct under former head coach Josh Gregory.
Mustangs senior Bryson DeChambeau, who last month became only the fifth player to win the individual NCAA Championship and U.S. Amateur in the same year, will be unable to defend his title next year in Eugene, Ore.
The school said DeChambeau can't compete at NCAAs even as an individual. SMU officials said they have 15 days to decide whether to appeal the penalties, per NCAA guidelines.
The Division I Committee on Infractions panel found that Gregory, who helped lead Augusta State to back-to-back national titles in 2010-11, committed multiple recruiting infractions, including 64 impermissible contacts with 10 prospects and seven parents of prospects over a 10-month period. Gregory also offered university merchandise and golf equipment at a significantly reduced price in 2013, and the NCAA found that Gregory was aware of a university booster who contacted nine recruits and facilitated contact between the coach and their families.
As a result, SMU, now coached by Jason Enloe, will be banned from postseason play in 2015-16. The Mustangs, who can award four-and-a-half scholarships each year, also will receive a 25-percent reduction in scholarships (1 1/8) for the next three years, beginning in 2016-17.
The university imposed its own sanctions for this season, including the reduction of 12 percent of available scholarships (.54). SMU also limited the number of official and unofficial visits by prospective student-athletes and restricted the number of communications between coaches and athletes.
“Shocked, disappointed, very sad,” Gregory told GolfChannel.com on Tuesday. “I’ve admitted my mistake since Day 1, but I’ve never hidden from it. I know I made a mistake, but I don’t understand this. It doesn’t fit the crime.”
In a statement, SMU said that it “strongly disagrees with the postseason ban for men’s golf as the discipline is punitive for every student-athlete and coach, none of whom were involved in the infractions.”
It’s a crushing blow for SMU’s program, which has risen to national prominence in recent years. Two years ago, Gregory helped lead his alma mater to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time, and last year DeChambeau became the first NCAA champion in school history.
DeChambeau did not respond to a message seeking comment. Enloe told GolfChannel.com that he spoke with DeChambeau for more than an hour Tuesday and said that he has no intention to turn pro this fall. It is not yet known, however, whether DeChambeau will play out the season with the Mustangs. If he were to turn pro before April, he would forfeit his exemptions into the 2016 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
“I’m disappointed by the news for the kids that are on this year’s team,” Enloe said. “They’re a great group of kids and they’ve had two nice runs in the NCAAs the past two years. I’m heartbroken they won’t get the chance to do that again this year.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, and it’s disappointing that the kids are suffering the consequences of one person’s actions.”
Gregory, who is currently coaching and working with junior golfers in the Dallas area, said he has “no desire” to work with the NCAA again. He cannot coach in college until September 2019.
“I’m embarrassed about what happened,” said Gregory, who resigned in August 2014. “I feel terrible for the kids – those are the ones I feel worst about. It just makes no sense whatsoever. Throw the book at me and give all the penalties to me, but the kids are the ones who suffer. It’s simply garbage.”
The SMU men’s basketball program was also hit with severe sanctions, which included a one-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions, vacation of wins and a nine-game suspension for head coach Larry Brown.