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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 6, 2003

UH program sanctioned in the past

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Yesterday's announcement that the University of Hawai'i is being stripped of its only national championship by a men's team was not the first time the school has been judged in violation of NCAA rules.

"But I think it is the worst (case) because any time you lose a national championship it is a tragedy, really," said Jim Leahey, longtime television and radio voice of UH sports. "It is a black mark on the (school's) athletic history."

Until yesterday, the heaviest punishment meted out to UH came in 1977 when the NCAA placed the athletic program on two years probation for what it termed "most serious" violations in several sports, but primarily men's basketball.

The fallout from those sanctions hung over the basketball program for several years, hindering recruiting, visibility and even contributing to the delay in UH finally being admitted to the Western Athletic Conference for 1979.

"I took six-to-seven years to recover from that (probation)," said Riley Wallace, an assistant at UH from 1978-84 and head coach since 1987. "It hurt recruiting and the years of losing and reputation hurt the program."

It wasn't until the 1988-89 season, when the Rainbows were selected for the National Invitation Tournament, that UH returned to the post-season in men's basketball.

But without being assessed probation, assistant volleyball coach Tino Reyes said of the latest NCAA penalties, "I don't think it is going to tarnish our image as far as going out to get foreign players."

Reyes said UH would continue to target, "the best players we can get, wherever they are from."

Below are significant rules violations involving UH:

  • May 7, 1977 — Declaring the case "most serious" and requiring "meaningful penalties," the NCAA placed UH on two-year probation and ordered the school to permanently sever athletic ties with three former staff members (later reduced to two) and seven boosters for 68 violations of association rules. The violations, which occurred between 1970 and 1976, mostly surrounded the men's basketball team and included improper recruiting inducements and extra benefits to 22 athletes.
  • March 4, 1986 — UH was stripped of its 1985 Western Athletic Conference men's swimming title and ordered to forfeit a scholarship in 1986 for use of John Ballack, who was later determined to be ineligible. His 34 points were the margin of UH's finish over second-place Utah.
  • March 23, 2003 — WAC Board of Directors fined UH $5,000 and issued a public reprimand after the school failed to certify its roster for the 2002 Hawai'i Bowl or seek a waiver.
  • Aug. 21, 2003 — NCAA ordered quarterback Tim Chang to sit out the season opener for appearing in the Hawai'i Bowl while academically ineligible.
  • Sept. 5, 2003 — NCAA ordered UH to pay a $5,000 fine and vacate its 2002 men's volleyball championship after determining All-American Costas Theocharidis played while ineligible.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.