Patrick Magee

Tyndall can deny all he wants, but damage is done at Southern Miss

Donnie Tyndall faces tough questions from ’60 Minutes Sports’

Former Southern Mississippi and University of Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall talks in a "60 Minutes Sports" interview about the harshest penalty ever imposed by the NCAA on a head coach for academic fraud.
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Former Southern Mississippi and University of Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall talks in a "60 Minutes Sports" interview about the harshest penalty ever imposed by the NCAA on a head coach for academic fraud.

Former Southern Miss men's basketball coach Donnie Tyndall doesn't stay out of the headlines very long.

Every time you think you've heard the last from Tyndall, he re-emerges.

“60 Minutes Sports” recently sat down with Tyndall to discuss the 10-year show-cause he's been given by the NCAA. The hefty penalty was handed down due to allegations of academic fraud at USM during Tyndall's tenure from 2012-14.

Tyndall likely saw the opportunity to talk with “60 Minutes Sports” as a chance to further bolster his case that he is the victim of an unfair ruling by the NCAA and deny the bulk of the charges.

Instead, Tyndall faced tough questions from the show's lead correspondent, Armen Keteyian.

More accusations

Adam Howard, a former top assistant for Tyndall at USM and Tennessee, has faced criticism from Tyndall since he became the lone former associate to prop up the NCAA's allegations.

In Tuesday's “60 Minutes Sports,” Keteyian hit Tyndall with the revelation that another former assistant has spoken with Keteyian and backed up Howard's claims.

The assistant spoke on the condition of anonymity and Keteyian detailed some of his accusations.

“During his first week on the job, Tyndall provided him with log-in information for the athletes so he could do their assignments for them,” Keteyian said. “He said Tyndall threatened to fire him if he wasn't willing to do the work. The assistant said some of the athletes didn't even know what courses they were enrolled in.”

Former Southern Mississippi and University of Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall talks in a "60 Minutes Sports" interview about the harshest penalty ever imposed by the NCAA on a head coach for academic fraud.

Tyndall kept his cool when informed that another former assistant had come forward, but the back-and-forth between Tyndall and Keteyian had to leave a mark.

Tyndall was asked about allegations that he told graduate assistants to do online courses for prospects.

“That’s simply not true,” Tyndall responded.

Keteyian interjects, “Why would someone like that lie to us?”

Tyndall answers, “Again, there might be someone with an ax to grind.”

Keteyian responds, “That’s a pretty big ax, Donnie.”

Tyndall, who is now an assistant with the Raptors 905 in the NBA D-League, was once a rising star in his profession. He's now a symbol of what's wrong with college athletics.

USM basketball reeling

The impact of Tyndall's time at USM will be felt for years to come.

The men's basketball program finally found momentum late in Larry Eustachy's eight-year run as head coach, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the first time since 1991.

Although there was no NCAA Tournament in Tyndall's two seasons, attendance was on the rise and the Golden Eagles went 56-17 with two NIT bids.

Tyndall didn't hang around Hattiesburg long and accepted the head coaching job at Tennessee in 2014. He was fired there after one season due to the NCAA investigation at USM.

Current USM head coach Doc Sadler has dealt with a self-imposed postseason ban the previous two seasons and a scholarship reduction. He still has to work to do with three fewer scholarships over the next two seasons. USM is currently on a nine-game losing streak and 3-10 overall.

The full scope of Tyndall's actions at USM came into focus at the exact time that athletic director Bill McGillis was trying to get support for a $40 million renovation of Reed Green Coliseum.

McGillis is stepping down at USM this month to become athletic director at the University of San Diego.

With the men's basketball program going through the roughest stretch in its history, the coliseum renovation never had much of a chance. It will be up to the next athletic director to find a way to give life to a badly-needed project.

While the NCAA investigation first hit USM in 2014-15, the program may be feeling the impact of Tyndall's actions well into the next decade.

Tyndall has filed an appeal with the NCAA and may eventually get some level of lenience, but the damage is done at Southern Miss and it is of his making.

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