The NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee has upheld a one-year postseason ban on Arizona State's baseball program, making the Sun Devils ineligible for the 2012 postseason.
The NCAA Infractions Committee ruled in December that violations in the ASU baseball program constituted a lack of institutional control and barred the Devils from the postseason for one year. The school appealed that punishment, so the team was allowed to participate in the 2011 postseason pending the results of the appeal. ASU argued that three violations were secondary rather than major, but the Appeals Committee today reduced only one major violation—for training at Athletes Performance—while upholding the all-important lack of institutional control charge.
The Sun Devils have already self-imposed punishments such as scholarship reductions, vacating wins and the 2007 Pacific-10 Conference title.
Sun Devils coach Tim Esmay, who took over after Pat Murphy was forced to resign as a result of the NCAA investigation, issued a statement Friday: "We are disappointed that we will not be able to participate in the postseason in 2012. The goals for this program will not and have not changed. We will take the same approach towards every practice and every game, nonconference and Pac-12, that we have always taken. Our goal to be the best team in the Pac-12 remains our focus. Sun Devil baseball is and will remain one of the premier collegiate baseball programs in the nation.
"I am glad that this program can finally put an end to this chapter. This has been a five-year process and now we can move forward and put this behind us."
The Sun Devils had a talented, veteran-laden team in 2011, and ASU largely performed well in the face of the ongoing uncertainty over whether the program would be eligible for the postseason. The departed juniors and seniors got a chance to play in the NCAA tournament; this year's juniors will not get that chance, but seniors with only one year of eligibility remaining have the option of transferring this winter without having to sit out a year. ASU has just two seniors on the roster—lefthander Joseph Lopez, who threw 18 innings a year ago, and first baseman Abe Ruiz, who had 17 at-bats—as well as grad student Adrian Gomez, who transferred in for his grad year from Washington.
The Arizona Republic reported that ASU did not appeal recruiting phone call violations found by the NCAA but noted in its appeal that the one-call-per-week rule central to its case has since been amended to allow unlimited calls during specified time periods for certain sports, including baseball. The Sun Devils have contended that those phone call violations do not add up to a lack of institutional control.
"We have exercised institutional control over all of our athletic programs and will continue to do so," ASU athletics director Lisa Love said in a statement. "We took a number of actions as a result of our own investigation into these issues, including the purchase of a recruiting and compliance product to support our athletic staff's compliance with NCAA legislation as it pertains to both prospective student-athletes and current student-athletes, expanding our compliance staff and realigning the athletic compliance function to the Office of the Senior Vice President and General Counsel."
Those steps should help ensure ASU does not go down this path again, but that will be small solace for the 2012 Sun Devils. The fight is over; one of college baseball's most storied and successful programs will be left out of regionals for the first time since 1999.
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