UPDATE: CCU releases statement on NCAA inquiry
One day after the NY Times published an article detailing an investigation by the NCAA into CCU's basketball program, the university released the following statement:
"Coastal Carolina University is and has been fully cooperating with the NCAA in its current inquiry. Allegations were brought to the University's attention in late summer of 2010. At that time, President David DeCenzo immediately directed Chief Operating Officer Edgar Dyer and University Counsel Tim Meacham to self-report the allegations to the NCAA on behalf of the University. NCAA's rules of ethical conduct prohibit anyone at Coastal Carolina University from providing further comment until the inquiry is completed."
NewsChannel 15 Sports Director Rich Chrampanis will have more on this story coming up on NewsChannel 15 at 6 and right here on CarolinaLive.com.
Thursday night's story:
The New York Times Pete Thamel released an investigative report on Coastal Carolina basketball on Thursday night. Click on the link below to read it and the allegations from former CCU basketball player Marcus Macellari.
WPDE Sports Director Rich Chrampanis is the host of the Cliff Ellis Show and offers his insight on the New York Times article:
Even if you are not the kind of person that clicks on links, I encourage you to read the article above by Pete Thamel. It is detailed and thorough and includes thoughts and angles from a lot of different places. Mr. Thamel spoke to so many different people, including people who were not quoted, to get background information and to piece the puzzle together. Here's the biggest revelations from my point of view:
The NCAA was on campus at CCU
Often times, you can file for reinstatement through the proper channels and a decision comes either yay or nay through the NCAA Clearinghouse. The fact that Renee Madison, as revealed by Thamel in the NYT, was on campus shows the seriousness of the alleged infractions. In addition, the other interesting tidbit is that the investigation began in November. A source told me that the first contact with the NCAA and the CCU men's basketball team was during the Charleston Classic in November (a tournament that featured CCU playing Georgetown, USC Upstate and UNC-Charlotte).
The centerpiece of the investigation is former CCU player Marcus Macellari
This is what got the ball rolling and started the NCAA investigation. Macellari had his scholarship revoked and has hired attorneys and is looking into suing the NCAA and/or Coastal Carolina.
Desmond Holloway got "a care package full of stuff" that included clothing. "I told her that my scholarship wouldn't have been revoked if these players hadn't been bribed to come here and offered unfair things", Macellari was quoted in the New York Times. "Coach Ellis has a reputation for giving money, and I really honestly don TMt think Des would have come here if he wasn TMt getting special stuff." This is the most incendiary of the allegations. There is one piece of evidence that could support this claim that WPDE Sports is currently pursuing.
About Marcus Macellari
An Indiana native, Marcus redshirted during the 2008/09 season and played a total of 23 minutes for the entire 2010/11 season. He did not make a field goal and his CCU career consisted of two free throws. Macellari was suspended for the Chants game against Duke in the preseason NIT for "a violation of team rules" along with Danny Nieman and Chad Gray. Macellari still lives with two current players on the CCU basketball roster.
What about the other side of the story?
Since last Thursday, Coach Ellis and CCU Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek have not offered any details whatsoever about the ongoing investigation. This is what they are supposed to do especially when the NCAA has the microscope on your athletic program. I would be very surprised if either Ellis or Yurachek will go on camera on Friday to address this New York Times report. My guess is we'll see a short carefully worded press release. Ellis will be on his way to Charleston for the season finale on Saturday afternoon.
What does all of this mean?
This doesn't change anything at all. The details of the investigation are out in the open and there may be more. I don't know if this will speed up the NCAA's ruling, but time is ticking when it comes to the most important time of the year. Coastal's game on Saturday at Charleston Southern has no bearing on CCU's season. Coastal is locked in as the #1 seed in the Big South Tournament and will host #8 Gardner-Webb on Tuesday night. The Chanticleers still have three home games potentially to get to the NCAA Tournament. Will the NCAA make an example of Coastal Carolina and strip wins? Only Renee Madison knows that answer and she may not have arrived at that point yet. Can the Big South intervene? That's a question for commissioner Kyle Kallander. We may have an announcement on Friday, we may not. That hasn't changed and it's been the holding pattern we've been in for the better part of seven days.
The Cliff Ellis Show
On Saturday night following the Charleston Southern game we will tape the Cliff Ellis Show. Prior to taping, I will conduct post-game for our newscast like we do each and every game. It is in this forum where I can ask Coach Ellis for his reaction to the New York Times article and everything going on with the intense pressure this program is under. When it comes time to begin the Cliff Ellis Show, I'll ask coach how he wants to proceed. My guess is that he will want to simply focus on the two games from the week and look ahead to the Big South Tournament. It's an awkward situation, but it's his show. While myself and many CCU fans would like to go blow by blow through the accusations and everything that has gone on, my guess is that is not going to happen on Sunday at 12 noon.
On a side note, I've worked with Coach Ellis for four years and I can tell you this: he is one of the most focused men I've ever been associated with. His routine is simple, yet effective. He worries about immediately what's in front of him and devotes his attention and efforts towards that. It doesn't change when he's winning or losing or going through intense adversity. Considering that this has been going on for the better part of four months, how is it that this team never leaked a single word about what was going on? I'm around the CCU basketball program as much as any non-player or coach and this team simply shut out the distraction as enormous as it was. The difference this time around is that everyone is in on the distraction and now the scrutiny will be at an all-time high.
At this point, anything can happen.