Reports: Syracuse hoops under NCAA probe

Syracuse University’s basketball program has been the subject of a wide-ranging NCAA investigation, according to multiple reports.

Syracuse has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA, which has been investigating the school for a multiyear period, reported Wednesday, one day before the Orange begin play in the NCAA tournament against Montana.

It is unclear when Syracuse received the letter of inquiry. The nature of the violations also is unknown, but reported that the transgressions are “major.”

The scope of the investigation has expanded beyond the NCAA’s inquiry last year into possible drug-related violations and now includes the school’s handling of Fab Melo’s academic eligibility and an alleged sexual assault case involving three players in 2007, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

NCAA investigators also have interviewed Syracuse employees and former school employees over the past year, according to the Post-Standard.

Although Kevin Quinn, Syracuse’s vice president for public affairs, told the Post-Standard that the investigation does not involve the 2007 sexual assault case, the newspaper reported that an NCAA official questioned a school professor in August about the university’s handling of the alleged assault.

The NCAA has not commented on the reported investigation. The probe also encompasses Syracuse’s football program but primarily is focused on the prestigious basketball team, according to reports.

According to, the case is not related to sexual abuse accusations made against former assistant coach Bernie Fine. Federal prosecutors closed their investigation without charging Fine in November, but declined to comment on whether they found the accusers credible or if they uncovered any evidence to support the allegations.

Syracuse stunningly declared last March that Melo was ineligible for the 2012 NCAA tournament just prior to its opening game. Melo, the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year, also missed three games earlier in the season due to an academic issue.

James Southerland also missed six games this season after being declared academically ineligible. The 6-foot-8 Southerland is the Orange’s second-leading scorer this season, averaging 13.9 points per game.

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