The bad news keeps rolling in for the Southern Miss men's basketball program.
Southern Miss junior point guard Rasham Suarez and senior forward Jeremiah Eason have been ruled academically ineligible to compete, the school announced on Thursday.
“I’m disappointed for these two young men, our new head coach and our basketball program,” USM athletic director Bill McGillis said in a press release. “We appreciate Jeremiah and Rasham’s contributions to the program and want the very best for them as they move forward. Our review with the NCAA of issues raised related to the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years remains ongoing.”
Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported that Eason and Suarez were questioned this week by the NCAA regarding the legitimacy of their academic work to qualify to play at USM, which is 6-12 and 1-6 in Conference USA this season.
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Just last week, USM announced it was self-imposing a postseason ban for the 2014-15 season due to an ongoing investigation of the program that is focused on Donnie Tyndall's two years as head coach from 2012-14.
Suarez and Eason both transferred to USM from the College of Central Florida.
A November Bleacher Report story on the NCAA probe at USM indicated that the investigation was focused on improper financial benefits given to players who were not on scholarship, but were enrolled in classes. They were looking to gain eligibility for the next season under Proposition 48 rules.
Both Suarez and Eason were eligible in their first seasons at USM.
Goodman reported that the NCAA is looking into the situations of sophomore guard Matt Bingaya, sophomore guard Shadell Millinghaus and freshman forward Davon Hayes during the time they sat out at USM while trying to gain eligibility.
Suarez was averaging 7.4 points and 3.6 assists in his first year at USM. He was the lone player who originally signed with USM while Tyndall was head coach that followed through to play for first-year head coach Doc Sadler.
Eason was going through some struggles in his second year at USM, averaging 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds as the primary starter in the post. He averaged 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds off the bench last year.
Goodman reported that Eason has a chance to be reinstated, but that Suarez may decide to go pro and play in Puerto Rico.
With the loss of Eason and Suarez, USM is in a terrible situation when it comes to depth.
In Saturday's 75-71 overtime loss at North Texas, Sadler used only eight players, including Suarez and Eason.
With the loss of Eason, that means junior Norville Carey and walk-on Michael O'Donnell are the lone forwards left who played in that game.
Sadler may choose to play Millinghaus, who recently returned to the team after deciding in December that he wanted to transfer elsewhere. He'd sat out since returning two weeks ago, but Sadler may have no choice but to play him with the loss of Suarez. Millinghaus was averaging 8.6 points a game before he left.
USM may have as few as six players available when it hosts Marshall at 7 p.m. today in Hattiesburg.