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Originally published Friday, March 1, 2013 at 9:05 PM

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Saint Mary's sentenced to 4 years of probation

One of the most powerful mid-major programs in college basketball has been found guilty of breaking some big-time rules. The NCAA put Saint...

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MORAGA, Calif. — One of the most powerful mid-major programs in college basketball has been found guilty of breaking some big-time rules.

The NCAA put Saint Mary's on four years of probation Friday for a "failure to monitor its men's basketball program," reducing scholarships and placing other penalties on the team after the governing body said the tiny Catholic college committed several recruiting violations.

A report by the NCAA Committee on Infractions found that Gaels coach Randy Bennett "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance," particularly over the recruiting practices of a former assistant. Bennett will not be allowed to recruit off campus and will be suspended for the first five West Coast Conference games next season.

Saint Mary's will still be allowed to participate in the league tournament and the NCAA tournament but can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments not already contractually obligated to attend. The team also will have a reduction in scholarships from 13 to 11 for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and an elimination of all foreign tours until the start of the 2017-18 season.

Bennett said he takes "full responsibility" for the mistakes but thought the penalties were too harsh.

"I regret in any of those areas coming up short in any way," Bennett said. "We've had some great moments here at Saint Mary's, a lot of great moments ... this isn't one of them, and I'm not proud of it. We're not perfect. I'm not perfect. I've made some mistakes along the way here. If I could do it over, I'd do it differently."

In addition, the NCAA charged an unnamed former assistant with unethical conduct, saying he "knowingly committed violations during the recruitment of three prospects." The report said the assistant arranged for travel to the United States and lodging with a local family for at least one recruit and that Bennett was aware of the activity.

Notes

• Former San Diego basketball star Brandon Johnson was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in a game-fixing scheme. San Diego's all-time scoring and assists leader admitted unsuccessfully soliciting an unidentified player during the 2010-11 season, when he was no longer at the school.

D'Angelo Harrison, the third-leading scorer (17.8 ppp) in the Big East Conference, was suspended by St. John's for the rest of the season. Red Storm coach Steve Lavin made the announcement without giving a reason for the suspension.

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