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Creighton Gets Probation in FBI Corruption Investigation

Brock Fritz

The Creighton University men’s basketball team will operate with fewer scholarships and under recruiting restrictions for the next two years, due to punishments handed out by the NCAA.

Creighton’s press release on the incident, which stemmed from former assistant coach Preston Murphy’s involvement in the FBI’s investigation into recruiting corruption, said that the university has worked with NCAA enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions for three years.

“We appreciate the NCAA's Committee on Infractions' comprehensive and thorough review of the case and accept their finding of Level I - Mitigated violation against the University,” the statement reads. “It is noteworthy that within the public infractions report, the Committee stated, ‘that in the 100-year history of Creighton's participation in Division I athletics, this is Creighton's first Level I, Level II or major infractions case. As it relates to institutions, the absence of an infractions history is rare. As such, the panel affords significant weight to this (mitigating) factor.’

“There is no postseason penalty imposed on the men's basketball program, and none of our current or future student-athletes will be impacted. We have used this as an opportunity for self-reflection, assessment, and improvement. As such, the Department of Athletics has enacted a series of reforms to policies and procedures, including an even more robust education and monitoring program, to ensure that our programs continue to adhere to the NCAA's high ethical standards.”

The Associated Press reported that Murphy, who was hit with a two-year show-cause penalty, was recorded accepting $6,000 in an envelope during a July 2017 meeting in Las Vegas. According to the AP, “The meeting violated NCAA rules because it formalized a business relationship in which the management company could attempt to use Murphy to access Creighton players.” Murphy was placed on leave in March 2019, and resigned from Creighton in November 2019.

The NCAA also handed Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen a Level II penalty for conducting his own investigation without notifying the compliance office. Rasmussen reportedly determined there was no violation, keeping the information to himself until the FBI’s case came to public light.

“I thank the NCAA staff for their thorough investigation,” Rasmussen said. “We are anxious to move forward knowing that the series of reforms we have made to our policies and procedures within the Department of Athletics at Creighton ensure ongoing adherence and compliance with the NCAA's high ethical standards.

According to ESPN, Murphy responded “no” twice when asked whether he accepted “anything of value” to steer players to an adviser or agent in Creighton’s internal questionnaire. Murphy later told Creighton men’s basketball head coach Greg McDermott about the 2017 meeting. McDermott told Rasmussen, which led to him conducting his own investigation.

“The violations largely stem from individuals permitting personal relationships to cloud their judgment and influence their decision-making,” the NCAA committee said. “Specifically, the assistant coach prioritized loyalty to his friend, the agent associate; and the athletics director looked past alarming conduct based on his trust in the assistant coach.”

Murphy’s lawyers said he returned the money after the meeting.

Creighton said the basketball program is facing the following penalties:

  • Two years of probation, not including a postseason ban.
  • A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.
  • A reduction of men's basketball scholarships by one per year for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of men's basketball official visits by six during the 2021-22/2022-23 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction in the number of men's basketball recruiting person days by 10% from the previous four-year average for the two-year probationary period (self-imposed by the university).
  • The university will prohibit complimentary admission to home games for all prospects and coaches in November 2021 (self-imposed by the university).
  • A two-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

Related: Creighton Coach Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate Analogy’

Related: Creighton Players Speak Out Over Coach’s Comments

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