Volleyball: BYU suspends four players who received improper benefits
An NCAA investigation has determined that four members of the No. 5-ranked Brigham Young men's volleyball team have been found to be ineligible after receiving improper benefits.
Tuesday, BYU issued the following statement:
"As part of the NCAA reinstatement process, those four individuals will be withheld from competition at the beginning of the 2011 volleyball season. Ryan Boyce and BJ Hiapo will be required to miss the first three matches of the year. Neither student-athlete will make the trip to Santa Barbara, Calif., this weekend for the season-opening tournament.
"Joe Kauliakamoa and Russell Lavaja will not participate in the first match of the Santa Barbara Tournament, on January 7. BYU will continue working closely with the NCAA to finalize the remainder of the review."
On Aug. 18, athletic director Tom Holmoe fired Shawn Patchell following his fourth season as coach when allegations of violations inside the program surfaced. Those allegations included improper use of scholarship money.
"We've been waiting for it for a while," said BYU's interim coach Rob Neilson, who had been an assistant under Patchell for two years and was a member of the Cougars' 2004 National Championship team.
"We're glad find out and get the guys eligible to play," said Nielson, relieved that the punishment wasn't worse. "It's nice to get it out of the way. It's been really tough, losing a friend [Patchell]. Our guys have done a remarkable job staying focused."
In 2008, the Cougars were placed on three years' probation by the NCAA for violations through March 10, 2011, losing half a scholarship for two years.