CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - By many accounts it has been a great season for the Coastal Carolina University men's basketball team. The Chanticleers had the nation's longest winning streak in college basketball at one point, and the team's record at home is 12-2.
However, those home losses came as the last two games of the season - deflating the positive feeling the team had been carrying.
Now a New York Times article could damage the program even more, particularly its overall image. The article mentions an NCAA investigation surrounding the basketball team. At least part of the investigation centers around star player Desmond Holloway.
WMBF News learned Holloway was not allowed to play on February 17 because of an eligibility issue involving the NCAA. At the time Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek commented only briefly about the situation.
"There's a student-athlete eligibility issue regarding Desmond Holloway," Yurachek said. "Subsequently we had to rule him ineligible. We have started the re-instatement process with the NCAA, and really can't comment much further on the re-instatement process to protect the integrity of that process."
The Times article states the investigation is about allegations that CCU coaches offered bribes to Holloway, and possibly other players, to transfer to CCU.
Friday the university released this statement:
Coastal Carolina University is and has been fully cooperating with the NCAA in its current inquiry. Allegations were brought to the University's attention in late summer of 2010. At that time, President David DeCenzo immediately directed Chief Operating Officer Edgar Dyer and University Counsel Tim Meacham to self report the allegations to the NCAA on behalf of the University.
NCAA's rules of ethical conduct prohibit anyone at Coastal Carolina University from providing further comment until the inquiry is completed.
Students on campus Friday had mixed opinions on the investigation and how it could affect the school's reputation.
"It's good that Coastal's finally getting recognition, but it's not for the right reason," said Kim Hart.
She also called the article trash, and said she wished the team gotten more attention when the season was on a high note.
Student Benny Johnson said he thinks the accusations are bad, but not as bad as some problems other athletes have been accused of.
"First, it will be negative, but it'll blow over pretty quickly I think," Johnson said.
Other students said they would not blame any student athletes for taking money or gifts. Freshman Paris Massey said she can understand that bribes would be hard to resist. She said she would blame the coaches much more than the players if any wrong-doing is found.
Student Andre Trapp said he thinks breaking NCAA rules is common, so CCU should not be exception.
"In today's times it's kind of accepted that they're going to cheat to get college players," Trapp said. "So we're a smaller school, why can't we cheat too?"
Other students said they feel any publicity is good publicity. They feel the basketball team may suffer, but the school overall may benefit from the attention.
"Publicity is good for Coastal because it brings more people to the campus and stuff, but if they're not doing the right thing then that's wrong," commented Haley Mizell.
The Chanticleer men's basketball team is the regular champions, and CCU will host the Big South Conference basketball tournament as a result. Holloway will not play in those games unless the NCAA determines he is eligible to compete again.