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Creighton fined, put on probation for $6,000 bribe in 2017

Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Preston Murphy resigned over the matter in 2019.
Source: AP
Source: AP(Rex Smith)
Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 10:26 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The NCAA handed down its decision Tuesday on an ethical infraction after an assistant coach accepted $6,000 from “a business management company” in 2017 in Las Vegas.

The decision also mentions Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen’s failure to report the violation by CU Assistant Basketball Coach Preston Murphy, who resigned eight months after he was placed on administrative leave over the matter.

“Although the committee found that the assistant coach did not take any further action following the meeting, the meeting violated NCAA rules because the receipt of money formalized a business relationship between the assistant coach and the management company for the purpose of using the coach for access to student-athletes,” according to the NCAA release from the Division I Committee on Infractions.

“The violations largely stem from individuals permitting personal relationships to cloud their judgment and influence their decision-making. 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,” the committee said in its decision.

Creighton University will be on probation for two years, fined and will lose scholarships, comp tickets, and other recruiting abilities, among other punitive measures as listed below.

  • CU will be fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget — a figure Creighton officials would not disclose to 6 News.
  • The university must reduce men’s basketball scholarships by one per year for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • CU must also reduce men’s basketball official visits by six during the 2021-22/2022-23 rolling two-year period (self-imposed by the university).
  • The university must reduce 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).
  • CU must prohibit complimentary admission to home games for all prospects and coaches in November 2021 (self-imposed by the university).

In addition, a two-year show-cause order will be implemented for the former assistant coach, during which time any NCAA school must restrict him from any athletically related duties “unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply,” the release states.

The NCAA said in its release that the CU bribe was related “related to a broader scheme,” and that several people — “including college basketball coaches” — were arrested and prosecuted on conspiracy and bribery charges. The management company involved was bribing coaches for access to — and influence of — student-athletes to retain its services.

“No Creighton employees were arrested or prosecuted,” the release states.

Federal trials on the matter started in October 2018, according to the NCAA release, at which time a CU prospect’s father testified about Murphy.

“Creighton’s athletics department issued a questionnaire to its men’s basketball staff asking directly whether staff members had accepted anything of value from an agent, financial advisor, or apparel representative and whether they accepted anything of value in exchange for steering a student-athlete or a prospect toward that individual’s services,” the release states. “The assistant coach answered “no” on both questions. He did, however, inform the men’s basketball head coach of his Las Vegas meeting, and the head coach informed the athletics director.”

Rasmussen conducted his own investigation, talking with Murphy and Head Coach Greg McDermott — but didn’t notify the compliance department, the NCAA found. At the time, Murphy said he gave the money to the agent associate after the meeting, the release states.

“The athletics director determined that a violation had not occurred and kept the information to himself until March 2019, when the federal government issued a superseding indictment that specifically identified the assistant coach’s participation in the meeting,” the release states.

Eight months later, Murphy resigned from CU. He had been with the CU basketball staff for four seasons.

The federal case led to significant NCAA reforms, the release states.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Rasmussen thanked the NCAA for its “thorough investigation.”

“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,” he said.

The university also released a statement, highlighting the actions taken once the situation came to light as well as its cooperation with the NCAA in the aftermath.

“There is no postseason penalty imposed on the men’s basketball program, and none of our current or future student-athletes will be impacted,” the statement notes.

Read the full CU statement

“Creighton University remains committed to compliance throughout the University, including in our Department of Athletics. For nearly three years, Creighton has worked proactively and cooperatively with the NCAA enforcement staff and Committee on Infractions on a review of the actions of former assistant men’s basketball coach Preston Murphy, who was placed on leave in March 2019, and resigned from Creighton in November 2019.

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. 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. Indeed, these actions, and the University’s willingness to cooperate on this matter, have been applauded by the NCAA enforcement staff. We are eager to move forward.”

Creighton University statement

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