NCAA rejects BYU’s appeal in Nick Emery case; almost two seasons of Cougar basketball victories stand vacated

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nick Emery, pictured above, called the NCAA “corrupt” after the organization announced it would uphold its plan to erase 47 wins across two seasons from the Brigham Young University men’s basketball team.

The NCAA on Wednesday upheld its plan to erase 47 wins across two seasons from the Brigham Young University men’s basketball team.

BYU had appealed that aspect of the penalties, which were announced in November when the NCAA also summarized its findings in the investigation into then-guard Nick Emery’s interactions with boosters.

On Twitter, Emery called the NCAA’s decision “absolutely ridiculous.”

“The NCAA is a corrupt organization!" he added.

In another tweet Wednesday, Emery said: “I didn’t make some right decisions but a lot of these things were blown way out of proportion after my divorce by people who wanted to ruin me and my name.”

Emery’s former coach, Dave Rose, said he was disappointed in the ruling. He said the NCAA was being inconsistent with penalties issued among universities.

“It’s a pretty big penalty," Rose said. "I feel bad for the university, the basketball program, the players.”

Rose, who retired in March, was less concerned about his own coaching record, which on Wednesday was officially reduced to 301-135.

“My work’s done," Rose said. "We won the games. That’s what happened, and now somebody’s going to come back and say you didn’t? I don’t think that’s going to have too much of an emotional impact.”

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Brigham Young Cougars guard Nick Emery (4) celebrates a three-pointer as BYU hosts Mississippi Valley State, NCAA basketball at the Marriott Center in Provo, Wednesday November 25, 2015.

BYU on Wednesday issued a rebuke to the NCAA’s latest decision and questioned the association’s process for adjudicating wrongdoing.

“This penalty is truly unprecedented for a case in which the institution had no knowledge of or involvement in the infractions,” BYU said in a news release.

“The NCAA wrongly suggests that case precedent supports this decision, but the undisputed fact is that this is the first time ever that the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI) has vacated team records where the institution itself was not aware of and had no involvement in the violations.”

“BYU is concerned,” the statement went on to say, “about the harmful precedent that this case sets and the message it sends to NCAA membership, who may now be punished with a vacation of records, regardless of whether the institution knew about or participated in the violations. BYU strongly disagrees with the NCAA imposing this penalty in a case that included clear findings that there was no lack of institutional control, no failure to monitor and no head coach responsibility for the violations.”

[Click here to read BYU’s full statement.]

The denial appears to end the story of Emery, BYU and the NCAA. Emery announced in July he was retiring from college basketball.

BYU had already agreed to disassociate with the booster Brandon Tyndall, who was found to have provided the most improper benefits to Emery, including financing foreign travel for Emery and his then-wife and providing Emery with use of a Volkswagen Jetta. Emery had told the NCAA he had planned to repay Tyndall, but that he was advised by an attorney not to access his bank account after Emery and his wife separated.

Three other boosters were found to have provided lesser benefits to Emery. Of those, the most concerning to the NCAA, according to its public report as well as records reviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune, was when Keith Nellesen, one of the founders of the home technology firm Vivint, left $200 in Emery’s locker so he could buy shoes. Nellesen, as well as boosters Jeff Smith and David Hunter, all received letters warning or advising them they represented BYU’s interests and not to provide such benefits again.

As for the men’s basketball team, it’s penalties officially include:

  • Probation through Nov. 8, 2020.

  • A vacation of records in which Emery participated while ineligible.

  • A reduction of one men’s basketball scholarship, served during the earliest possible academic year (self-imposed by the university).

  • Recruits could not make any more than seven official visits during most-recent academic year as well as 2019-2020.

  • A disassociation of one of the boosters (self-imposed by the university).

  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Brigham Young Cougars guard Nick Emery (4) screams at the Utah bench to sit down after he was called for flagrant foul 2 on Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) during second half action in the Utah versus BYU men's basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, December 2, 2015. Emery was ejected from the game.

Neither Emery nor the boosters returned Tribune messages seeking comment Wednesday.

When asked about Emery on Wednesday, Rose said: “I hope this is over. I hope this is the end of it, and I hope everybody can just move forward.”

The 47 vacated wins represent all but one BYU win during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. The lone remaining win is a 2015 victory over Weber State for which Emery was suspended. Emery had punched University of Utah player Brandon Taylor in the previous game.

Emery was a team captain and starter in the 2016-2017 season. He also played on a Lone Peak High School team that was named national champions in 2013 and was The Tribune’s 5A boys’ basketball MVP that year. As a junior in high school, Emery committed to BYU, where his older brother, Jackson Emery, played basketball for four seasons.

BYU’s statement Wednesday echoes another appeal pending before the NCAA. The University of Missouri is fighting a bowl ban for its football team this season, among other penalties, over a tutor found to have helped nine athletes from three sports cheat. Missouri’s argument has been that the cheating was isolated to the tutor and the university cooperated with the NCAA.