Keeping Score

Tennessee fires Tyndall due to NCAA probe of his time at USM

Tennessee announced Friday morning that it has fired men's basketball coach Donnie Tyndall due to the NCAA investigation of his 2012-14 stint at Southern Miss. 

A release from Tennessee said that Tyndall had been fired with cause and that the decision was based on “information received during the NCAA's investigation of another institution.”

USM has acknowledged that the basketball program is under an NCAA probe for the two years that Tyndall was the head coach there. The team was placed under a self-imposed postseason ban this past season due to the investigation.

The Tennessee announcement said: The university concluded that Tyndall is highly likely to be found responsible for serious (e.g., Level I and/or Level II) violations of NCAA rules that occurred during his tenure as head men's basketball coach at another institution.

“It is disappointing that we have to take this action.” UT athletic director Dave Hart said in a press release. “It is highly likely that coach Tyndall will face significant penalties at the conclusion of the NCAA's infractions process. We believe that this decision is in the best interests of the University of Tennessee.”

USM athletic director declined to comment on Tyndall in a released statement Friday.

"We do not have any comment related to the action taken today regarding our former head men’s basketball coach," McGillis said. "We are continuing to work collaboratively with the NCAA to review the serious issues raised regarding the men’s basketball program while under the leadership of the former coaching staff.

“Our joint investigation is ongoing and the process will not be complete for some time. In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, and pursuant to NCAA policy, we cannot comment further regarding any details of the case at this time.”

Southern Miss went 56-17 in Tyndall's time at the school, narrowly missing out on the NCAA Tournament both years. The Golden Eagles won multiple games in the NIT in both of Tyndall's seasons.

It was first reported in November by Bleacher Report that the USM basketball team was under investigation.

The NCAA has not yet revealed the findings of its investigation, but multiple reports indicate that at least part of the probe involves improper benefits awarded to Prop 48 players that were on the USM campus but not eligible to compete.

After USM announced that it placed the program under a one-year postseason ban, athletic director Bill McGillis said that there were likely more difficulties ahead for the program.

Southern Miss went 9-20 and 4-14 under first-year coach Doc Sadler this past season. The Golden Eagles managed to be competitive at times despite multiple costly departures. Guards Dallas Anglin and Shadell Millinghaus, who later returned only to decide to transfer again after the 2014-15 season, both left the program in December.

A pair of USM players who transferred in from the College of Central Florida, guard Rasham Suarez and forward Jeremiah Eason, were ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA in late January. This announcement raised questions about the involvement of Tyndall's staff with the Ocala, Fla., community college program.

Sadler struggled to keep enough players on the court to finish out games. After dressing out seven players against FIU on Feb. 12, Southern Miss finished with only four after three fouled out in a 73-71 loss in overtime.

According to ESPN, Millinghaus and forward Davon Hayes decided to transfer from USM earlier this week.

Tyndall went 16-16 and 7-11 in the SEC in his first year at Tennessee, earning impressive wins over Arkansas and Butler. The team struggled down the stretch, going 4-11 in its last 15 games.

Tyndall was hired at USM in April of 2012 during Jeff Hammond's tenure as athletic director. Hammond served for six months as the interim athletic director after Richard Giannini was forced out at the end of 2011. Hammond had his interim role removed in June of 2012 and he served in that capacity for one year before current president Rodney Bennett decided not to renew his contract as athletic director. Hammond is currently a special assistant to Bennett on military and veterans affairs.

McGillis was announced as Hammond's replacement in July of 2013.