Saint Mary's hit with NCAA penalties, Bennett suspended

The NCAA Committee on Infractions announced penalties Friday for the Saint Mary's men's basketball program, stemming primarily from an investigation into recruiting practices of a former assistant coach.

Included will be a four-year probation, reduced scholarships for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, recruiting restrictions and a five-game suspension next year for head coach Randy Bennett.

The report states that Bennett failed "to promote an atmosphere for compliance."

In addition, the NCAA placed a two-year show-cause order on an unnamed former assistant coach, saying he "acted unethically when he knowingly committed recruiting violations for three prospects."

The majority of the recruiting activity by the former assistant coach centered on international prospects.

Bennett, according to the NCAA, was aware of the former assistant coach's termination from a two-year college due to improprieties and was aware of the coach's recruiting activity with an international prospect for whom the former assistant arranged travel to the United States and lodging with a local family.

The NCAA added that these were "red flags" and should have alerted the head coach to the need for heightened vigilance with regard to the former assistant's recruiting activity.

Saint Mary's will still be allowed to participate in the West Coast Conference Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, but can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments for the next two years.

Bennett also cannot recruit off-campus for the 2013-14 academic year and the program will be docked two scholarships a year for 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The Gaels (25-5) have made the NCAA Tournament four times under Bennett.