Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Notre Dame Prep has been very good to Pitt basketball over the years. But now the school is facing some serious questions from the NCAA.
Jamie Dixon has had a pretty cozy relationship with New England powerhouse Notre Dame Prep as of late. When Pitt needed somewhere to send Steven Adams to make sure the New Zealander would qualify, they picked Notre Dame Prep. When Pitt landed prized recruit Khem Birch, he was playing for Notre Dame Prep. And when things with Birch went south, current NDP head coach Ryan Hurd publicly criticized him for abandoning the Panthers. And Pitt assistant Bill Barton was the head coach there for a decade ending in 2007.
So yeah, Notre Dame Prep has been good to the Panthers. The problem is that now the program may be in hot water:
The NCAA is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Notre Dame Preparatory School just weeks after declaring two Class of 2012 basketball recruits from the school academically ineligible to play college ball this year, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Parents of former players from the Fitchburg, Mass., prep school told Yahoo! Sports they have been contacted by NCAA investigators and asked about topics including academic and eligibility issues, financial irregularities and recruiting practices at the longtime basketball powerhouse. The NCAA has already ruled Maryland recruit Sam Cassell Jr. and Xavier's Myles Davis academically ineligible to play.
Pitt was involved with Davis last year, but ultimately signed Chris Jones for their hole at shooting guard. Steven Adams has already been acedmically cleared, so there's no fear there, but there's some odd stuff going on at NDP:
In the past, Hurd had some members of the basketball program pay their tuition (upwards of $12,000 annually for non-scholarship payers) directly to his own personal bank account rather than the school itself.
Parents supplied Yahoo! Sports with cancelled bank transactions, text messages from Hurd and other paperwork concerning the payments and the account at Bank of America. They also detailed how at the time they were suspicious of such a request.
"I asked [Hurd] how should we make the payment," said Marilyn Hill, whose son Eric Richardson considered attending NDP as part of the basketball program for the 2010-11 academic year. "He gave me an account number under 'Hurd Basketball' at Bank of America. I said, 'Shouldn't it be going to Notre Dame Prep?' He said, 'No, this is the account all of the money goes into.'"
Let's be clear here, there are absolutely no allegations that anyone associated with Pitt was involved in any wrongdoing, if there even is any wrongdoing at all. Still, this is something to keep an eye on given the program's close relationship with Hurd and the school.