LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The NCAA placed Kentucky's basketball team on three years' probation Friday, stopping short of issuing the 'death penalty' to a school with perhaps the richest heritage in college basketball.
In citing 'major' violations that included academic fraud and payments to a recruit's father, the NCAA Committee on Infractions also imposed a 2-year ban on postseason tournaments and a 1-year ban on live television appearances.
However, the governing body of college athletics said 'significant actions' by the university influenced the NCAA in refraining from an outright basketball ban, the so-called death penalty in college sports.
'It could have been worse,' Associate NCAA Director Steve Morgan said at a campus news conference. 'The committee very seriously considered prohibiting the university from playing basketball at all next year and perhaps for two years.'
University President David Roselle said he has no plans to appeal the decision. Roselle was under pressure from fans and Gov. Wallace Wilkinson for his cooperative stance since the scandal began more than 13 months ago.
Through the years basketball has been likened to a religion in Kentucky. The Wildcats have won more games than any college teams and captured five NCAA titles, second only to UCLA.
'My real objective from the beginning was to save the basketball program,' Roselle said. 'I don't know if I ever convinced anyone we were in real danger.'
Other sanctions levied by the NCAA include allowing only three additional scholarships to players other than those already on the team in the 1989-90 and 1990-91 academic years.
Among Kentucky's violations was academic fraud committed by sophomore Eric Manuel, who the NCAA said cheated on a college entrance exam and competed in games.
The university was ordered to return its proceeds from the 1988 NCAA Tournament, which exceeds $300,000, because of Manuel's participation. The 3-1 record also will be stricken from NCAA record books.
The NCAA also said former Assistant Coach Dwane Casey sent $1,000 to the father of recruit Chris Mills and lied about his part in the transaction and other violations. For five years, Casey must appeal to the committee to not impose any penalties on any school that hires him.
Morgan said academic fraud was the most serious charge. Manuel will be banned from playing at any school unless Kentucky appeals his case to the NCAA Eligibility Committee. Mills is also ruled ineligible, although his case could be appealed by a school other than Kentucky.
Roselle said both students would be extended academic scholarships in the interim.
The committee also found the university showed a lack of control in running the basketball program. However, the NCAA said Roselle 'acted forcefully to uncover all relevent information.'
'The committee credited these actions, and so the penalties, although severe, do not include any limitations on regular season competition.'
The committee cited other reasons for reduced penalties: the resignation of Coach Eddie Sutton and his staff; the replacement of Athletics Director Cliff Hagan with C.M. Newton.
'The university not only did the correct thing, we did the right thing,' Roselle said. 'The integrity of the university stands higher than ever before.'
Newton said he did not expect the penalties to make it harder to find a replacement for Sutton. The athletic director has said New York Knicks Coach Rick Pitino is the leading candidate.
'This is a real downer for me and it is a real downer for anyone who loves the program,' Newton said. 'We're going to rebuild. That's a given. We're going to have some tough times and we're just going to have to cinch up and get ready for tough times.'