Dayton’s Neil Sullivan: ‘It’s a challenging time for college basketball’

Sullivan confident UD men’s basketball won’t be implicated in FBI probe

Even with the Dayton Flyers men's basketball team in danger of suffering its first losing season in 12 years, their fans at least can take solace in the fact that the big news story in college basketball this season — the corruption investigation that has dominated headlines since September — hasn't involved their team.

Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan expressed confidence Monday that will continue to be the case.

“We have no information to suggest we are involved in any way,” Sullivan said, “and I believe in the integrity of our current and former staff.”

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Programs from across the country — most notably Louisville, which fired coach Rick Pitino — have been implicated in the scandal. Players have been accused of taking money to attend schools. Coaches allegedly have taken bribes to steer recruits to schools.

Arizona, coached by former Dayton coach Archie Miller's brother Sean, now finds itself at the center of attention after ESPN reported FBI wiretaps intercepted a telephone conversation in which Sean Miller discussed paying $100,000 to recruit Deandre Ayton.

The scandal has stained college basketball, overshadowing the upcoming NCAA tournament and casting doubt on the future of the game.

“It’s certainly a challenging time for college basketball,” Sullivan said, “and what was released in September made that really clear. I’m not privileged to any facts beyond what was released in the federal complaint or publicly-available documents, but if true, the allegations in the complaint, to UD, would be totally unacceptable and really have no place in college sports.”

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The NCAA and Atlantic 10 Conference provided schools guidance on how to handle their own internal investigations, Sullivan said. Schools were advised to meet with coaches and players.

The conference already expected its programs to have adequate compliance measures and to provide proper education to coaches and players about NCAA regulations. Swift action is expected to occur, Sullivan said, if there ever is an issue. That hasn’t been a problem at Dayton.

“We aim to hire and retain people who have integrity and do the right thing,” Sullivan said. “There’s no set of controls that can replace a culture of engaged coaches who take ownership and pride in upholding the standards that we expect. We make those expectations known in the hiring process. We make those expectations known in the review process. Quite frankly, we demand integrity from all our employees and our student-athletes. So we make every effort to comply with Dayton regulations, NCAA regulations, A-10 regulations. That’s a standard. It’s not optional.”

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Dayton has played in the last four NCAA tournaments and competes for some of the best players in the country. First-year coach Anthony Grant landed a top-100 recruit, Dwayne Cohill, in the fall. It’s a program that knows the pressure of competing at the highest level.

It’s a tough and competitive business, Sullivan said, but that doesn’t excuse poor behavior.

“Wall Street is competitive,” Sullivan said. “Other industries are competitive. College athletics can be improved and should be improved. But from Dayton’s position, competition and competitiveness are not a sufficient reason to do anything but the right thing.”

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