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Men's basketball: UNT, C-USA looking at possible penalty

Profile image for By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

North Texas and Conference USA officials confirmed they are looking into the UNT men’s basketball schedule and any potential penalties the Mean Green might incur after playing five games against non-Division I opponents this season.

The NCAA limits teams to four games against non-Division I opponents a year, including scrimmages and exhibitions. As as result, UNT may have to forfeit one game.

UNT played exhibition games against Oklahoma City, which competes at the NAIA level, and Southeastern Oklahoma State, which plays at the Division II level. The Mean Green then played Northwood and Wayland Baptist, two NAIA opponents, in the regular season.

UNT also played a regular-season game against Incarnate Word, which is making the transition from Division II to Division I and the Southland Conference.

Since Incarnate Word has not yet completed the four-year transition process, the Cardinals count as a Division II opponent. Several schools have run afoul of the rule for playing transitional teams.

The Stephen F. Austin men’s team and Southeastern Louisiana women’s team will forfeit games to Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian, respectively, to avoid exceeding the four-game limit for non-Division I opponents. ACU also is making the transition from Division II to Division I.

The Southland has applied for an NCAA waiver that would allow its teams to avoid penalties for exceeding the limit.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said that he is looking into the situation but declined further comment. A UNT spokesman said that the school’s compliance office is aware of the issue.

“I have heard about it,” UNT head coach Tony Benford said. “I just don’t know right now.”

Conference USA official Courtney Morrison Archer said it could be a week or two before the league office and UNT officials determine whether the school will have to forfeit any games.

“We are still gathering information,” Morrison Archer said. “It’s being looked at in the big picture before any final determination can be made.”

UNT swept its five non-Division I opponents and picked up three regular-season wins. UNT beat Northwood 72-67, Wayland Baptist 81-77 and Incarnate Word 84-67.

Those wins counted toward UNT’s 9-7 record heading into a two-game C-USA road trip this week against Marshall and Charlotte, where the Mean Green will look to bounce back from falling to Southern Mississippi and Tulane at home to open league play.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.