The Southern Methodist University (SMU) men's golf program has been ruled ineligible to compete in post-season play in the 2015-16 season after the NCAA found former coach Josh Gregory engaged in recruiting violations and unethical conduct.
That also means reigning NCAA men's golf champion and U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau will be unable to defend the NCAA title he won at the Concession Club in May. DeChambeau will not even be able to compete in the event as an individual. SMU has 15 days from the Sept. 29 announcement of the penalties to submit a formal appeal.
Specifically, the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions found that Gregory was guilty of committing multiple recruiting infractions, including 64 impermissible contacts with 10 prospects and seven parents of prospects over a 10-month period. Gregory was apparently also aware that a university booster had contacted nine recruits and facilitated contact between Gregory and the recruits' families. Gregory, who led Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010 and '11, was also found to have offered SMU merchandise and golf equipment at a discounted price.
In addition to the one-year post-season ban, SMU will face a one-quarter reduction in scholarships it can award men's golfers in the three seasons subsequent to the ban. That amounts to one-and-an-eighth scholarships each year through the 2018-19 season. SMU self-imposed a scholarship reduction for 2015-16 of approximately a one-half scholarship, as well limited recruit visits and communications.
Gregory, who admitted the contact was done intentionally, told Golf Channel that he believes the punishment is too steep.
“I’m embarrassed about what happened,” said Gregory, who resigned in August 2014 and cannot work for a NCAA-sanctioned school until 2019. “I feel terrible for the kids – those are the ones I feel worst about. It just makes no sense whatsoever. Throw the book at me and give all the penalties to me, but the kids are the ones who suffer. It’s simply garbage.”
For DeChambeau, the sanctions put a damper on his senior season. However, there is plenty of motivation for the physics major to maintain his amateur status through most of 2016. As U.S. Amateur champion, DeChambeau is in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship, provided he remains an amateur.