Southern Miss basketball team under scrutiny: NCAA investigates ‘Prop 48’ recruits

Caption: Former Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall speaks to Matt Bingaya during a game in the 2013-2014 season. The men’s basketball program is under NCAA investigation for giving “Prop 48” recruits improper benefits during Tyndall’s tenure. Three current players – Bingaya, Davon Hayes and Shadell Millinghaus – are former “Prop 48” recruits, but it is unknown as to whom the NCAA is actually investigating at this time. Photo by Marvin Gentry/USA Today Sports

The University of Southern Mississippi’s men’s basketball program is under investigation by the NCAA for potential rule violations that may have occurred under former head coach Donnie Tyndall.

A source close to the basketball program told Bleacher Report that the NCAA’s investigation centers on how tuition, living expenses and other fees were paid for “Prop 48″ recruits who signed with the Golden Eagles but were academically ineligible straight out of high school or junior college.

Even though they were not on scholarship, the players in question enrolled in classes at Southern Miss, lived in off-campus apartments and spent a year earning enough academic credits to make them eligible the following season, when they were placed on scholarship. This is standard practice under NCAA Proposition 48 rules, but the financial support these players may have received is under investigation, according to Bleacher Report. Along with investigating how those fees were paid—and by whom—the NCAA is also looking into the academic records of some of the players, the source said.

Three current players – Matt Bingaya, Davon Hayes and Shadell Millinghaus – are former “Prop 48” recruits, but it is unknown as to who the NCAA is actually investigating at this time, as Tyndall signed other players who enrolled at Southern Miss under similar circumstances but are no longer with the program.

Players who were originally set to start – Bingaya, Chip Armelin and Jeremiah Eason – did not play in the exhibition Thursday. Current basketball head coach Doc Sadler refused to talk about the allegations and did not give a reason as to why the trio sat. Bingaya is the only “Prop 48” recruit of the group.

“I’m not going to go with anything off the court,”  Sadler said. “But to answer your question, that wasn’t what (benching them) was about. We’re going to look forward to trying to figure some things out that we’re probably going to have to do.”

 Tyndall went 56-17 in two seasons at Southern Miss but failed to lead the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament. He left in April 2014 to replace Cuonzo Martin as the head coach at the University of Tennessee.

In a previously scheduled press conference Nov. 6, Tyndall said he would cooperate with the investigation, if asked.

“That’s all I will say or can say at this time,” he said.

Tyndall said he has not yet been contacted by any investigators.

The athletic department for Tennessee released a statement regarding the investigation, according to The Tennessean.

“We are aware of the situation at Southern Miss and will not comment further until there is a resolution,” the statement read. “We have an extensive vetting process with all potential coaching candidates, including very specific conversations with the NCAA and school officials at Southern Miss regarding compliance during Coach Tyndall’s tenure there, during which no issues were brought to our attention.”

In a statement, Southern Miss acknowledged that the school is “working together with the NCAA to review potential issues related to our men’s basketball program.”