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NCAA reportedly investigating SU basketball

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SYRACUSE — Syracuse University’s men’s basketball program is reportedly in the midst of an NCAA investigation as the team heads into its first tournament game tonight.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported NCAA investigators have conducted interviews of SU employees or former employees for at least the past school year in a wide-ranging investigation that includes the handling of Fab Melo’s academic eligibility last season and a 2007 alleged sexual assault case involving three players.

CBS Sports.com reported that the basketball team has been under NCAA investigation for years. A source told CBS the school has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA.

“The transgressions were described as both major and wide-ranging in nature,” CBS reported. The investigation also encompasses football, but is believed to primarily involve basketball, according to the report.

When asked by The Syracuse Post-Standard about an NCAA investigation on Wednesday, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross would not confirm or deny an NCAA investigation.

“We regularly have communications with the NCAA and our communications are no different than any other school’s athletic department,” Gross said.

The Orange faces Montana tonight in San Jose, Calif., in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In the past year, Melo and James Southerland were suspended for academic problems.

Last year, SU officials acknowledged an NCAA inquiry into years-old allegations that players were allowed to practice and play in games despite being in violation of the school’s drug policy.

“As we said last year at this time, we are collaborating with the NCAA as part of an ongoing inquiry,” Kevin Quinn, SU’s senior vice president for public affairs, told the Post-Standard Wednesday in an email. “Given this process is ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

Quinn said that, within the past day, NCAA officials told SU that they “are not investigating the 2007 case or anything related to it. That matter was adjudicated and resolved through both the grand jury and student judicial processes five years ago.”

The paper also reported the NCAA’s probe into the basketball team’s academics coincides with a shake-up in the student-athlete academic services office that helps the players stay eligible. Three people in the department have changed jobs since summer 2011.

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