UNCG Rocked By Athletic Scandals Over The Summer

Monique Williams
Staff Writer

The NCAA has placed UNCG’s athletic department on a three-year probationary period in the wake of recent findings that proves some of the athletic staff were involved in sports betting activities. The scandal was uncovered in a UNCG report released in July 2019. In the release, the program revealed that an assistant coach and assistant director at the time were involved in “impermissible sports wagering activities.” The two former members of UNCG’s athletic staff were revealed to be Phil Collins and Brian Sturgeon. Phil Collins served as the women’s basketball assistant coach until 2018 and Brian Surgeon was the assistant director for the Spartan Club.

  In addition to the probation and penalties issued to UNC Greensboro, Collins and Sturgeon were also hit with show cause penalties individually. Collins was hit with a 15-year show cause, while Sturgeon was penalized with a four-year show cause. Show cause penalties refers to any institution who wants to hire these individuals in the future. This means if an institution would want to hire either Collins or Sturgeon, they would have to justify their hiring. Sturgeon agreed to accept his show cause and cooperated with the investigation. Neither Sturgeon or Collins has been hired by an institution since the findings came to light.

A 15-year show cause penalty is a severe one, but the NCAA believes the penalty fits the crime. Why? The report confirms Collins’ participation in sports wagering activities stem from August 2017. His gambling activities were not uncovered until May 2018 when the Director of Women’s Basketball Operations disclosed to the head coach of the women’s basketball team that she was aware of Collins’ wagering.

As a result, UNC Greensboro conducted an internal investigation along with enforcement staff and took action. Phil Collins was terminated in May 2018. Brian Sturgeon was terminated a month later. While Collins and Sturgeon received penalties, other members of UNCG’s athletic staff also got caught in the line of fire. Around seven assistant coaches and other directors were aware of Collins gambling, but failed to report his activity immediately. Those members of the team were also terminated in 2018. 

In the report, the terminated coaches had revealed Collins placed bets on collegiate sports teams, which included the Spartans men’s basketball team. However, there were findings that proved the men’s basketball team were in no way involved in the betting activity. 

Meanwhile, the men’s soccer team finds itself embroiled in a second NCAA investigation, climaxing with the resignation of former head coach E.J. O’Keeffe in July, who was hired in February and had yet to coach a single game. Representatives of the University refused to comment on the nature of the ongoing investigation.

UNCG Athletic Director Kim Record publicly spoke about the issue, reiterating that the University values integrity and how it plays a role in their decision-making about the investigation. “We will always choose the path that aligns to our guiding principles: student-athlete well-being, teamwork, responsibility, integrity, development and excellence,” Record said in the statement.

The three year probationary period went into effect on July 25, 2019 and will last through July 24, 2022, and the NCAA has also assessed UNC Greensboro a one-time fine of $15,000. These are the only penalties stemming from the women’s basketball investigation; no scholarship amounts or postseason eligibility has been negatively impacted.

The UNCG women’s basketball program has been resolved since with the hiring of a new director of women’s basketball operations and women’s basketball assistant coach.

UNCG named Chris Rich as the head coach of the Spartan men’s soccer team on July 30. UNCG Men’s Soccer will kick off the season under Chris Rich as the new head coach against George Washington on Friday, Aug. 30 at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.



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