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Cincy Hoops Put On Probation

Cincinnati lost three men's basketball scholarships and was put on two years probation by the NCAA Thursday for wide-ranging violations in coach Bob Huggins' program.

But the university avoided a postseason ban and was cleared to reinstate assistant coach John Loyer, who was involved in some of the most major violations.

Huggins has not been directly named in any of the dozens of violations.

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  • The NCAA maintained there was a lack of institutional control, resulting in violations involving numerous players, a manager and an assistant coach.

    The Bearcats will lose three scholarships between 1999-2001 and be limited in their recruiting.

    Cincinnati is the second Conference USA school to face the NCAA's judgment in the last three months. Louisville's basketball team was banned from postseason play for one year and the university received three years' probation last September. Louisville has appealed part of the decision.

    The sanctions against Cincinnati are in addition to the recruiting restrictions the university put in place last summer as part of a self-imposed one-year probation.

    "It is a serious case," said Yvonne Slatton, acting head of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. "We considered it a serious case and I think the penalties imposed are consistent with that."

    In its report Thursday, the committee decided that more punishment was warranted in addition to the self-imposed probation "given the significant violations over a lengthy period of time."

    If any further violations occur within the next five years, the program will be subject to much more severe penalties under the NCAA's repeat-violator provisions.

    The sanctions came 22 months after the university began looking into the eligibility of point guard Charles Williams, an investigation that expanded and found numerous problems in the program.

    Loyer, linked to some of the most severe violations involvin Williams, has remained on paid leave during the investigation. The NCAA decided he won't be allowed to recruit off campus for one year.

    In a letter to the NCAA last summer, Huggins called the violations inadvertent mistakes and acknowledged he bears ultimate responsibility.

    Cincinnati's problems were first uncovered during the 1996-97 basketball season when questions were raised about Williams' eligibility.

    In the months that followed, the university uncovered violations involving a manager, Loyer, boosters and players. The manager was fired, Loyer was placed on leave, players were suspended and supervision of the program was tightened.

    The university's finding prompted the NCAA to conclude there was a lack of institutional control over Huggins' program, leaving it subject to major penalties. The university responded by doing an about-face last June in hopes of softening the blow.

    Athletic director Bob Goin withdrew the university's admission to some of the violations and contested the lack-of-control allegation. He also imposed a one-year probation -- essentially, a limit on recruiting -- and hoped that would appease the association.

    The NCAA's Committee on Infractions heard testimony in the case last August.

    Williams received what amounted to a one-year suspension from the NCAA for receiving improper academic and financial assistance. He withdrew from the school and has filed a lawsuit claiming the university should have followed the NCAA rules.

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