Cyclones suspended assistant in 2010

An Iowa State assistant men’s basketball coach was suspended for two games last season for using his frequent flyer miles to buy a player a round-trip plane ticket in 2009, according to an Iowa State report submitted to the NCAA.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, says an assistant under then-coach Greg McDermott used frequent flyer points to purchase a round-trip ticket from Des Moines to Atlanta for a player receiving summer school aid at Iowa State.

Iowa State said the assistant coach was suspended for two games and received a letter of reprimand.

Under NCAA rules, student-athletes in general can’t receive benefits that wouldn’t be available to other students.

The infraction, which occurred in June 2009, was ruled a secondary violation by the NCAA because it was an isolated or inadvertent violation that provided minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantages to Iowa State. Unlike secondary violations, major infractions are deemed to have given schools an extensive advantage and are investigated by NCAA enforcement staff.

Iowa State didn’t report the incident to the NCAA until December 2010 because that’s when officials learned of it, Iowa State spokesman Steve Malchow told The Associated Press in an email.

Iowa State didn’t publicly announce the two-game suspension and declined to name the player and coach involved, as is standard for the school when dealing with personnel matters, Malchow said in the email.

”It’s not our standard procedure to announce all disciplines (of staff and/or students) publicly,” Malchow wrote.

The school’s report said that while precedent in prior cases at other schools indicated that a letter of admonishment and a one-game suspension would be an acceptable penalty, it raised the suspension to two games because it should ”hold itself and the coach to a higher level of accountability.”

The NCAA agreed with Iowa State’s self-imposed disciplinary moves and ruled no further action was necessary.

Iowa State typically uses the Student-Athlete Opportunity Funds – now known as the Student Assistance Fund – to pay for such flights. Had the assistant asked to use those funds for the player’s trip to Atlanta, it wouldn’t have been a violation.

The Student Assistance Fund is distributed by the NCAA and is meant for players needing to meet financial needs that arise in conjunction with playing sports. The NCAA said its preference is for those funds to go to student-athletes who display a financial need for assistance.

The school also said it used the infraction as a ”teaching opportunity” during an all-coaches meeting with athletic director Jamie Pollard.

The NCAA’s media office did not respond to messages Thursday or Friday seeking comment.

Iowa State spokesman Mike Green said current head coach Fred Hoiberg, who wasn’t with the Cyclones when the violation occurred, wasn’t available for comment.