MOSCOW — As Idaho celebrated the groundbreaking for its new arena Thursday, a key basketball member was missing from the crowd.
About half a dozen Vandal fans carried signs in support of Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin, who is on administrative leave amid potential NCAA violations.
The signs read “KEEP COACH VERLIN.”
UI documentation sent to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the Tribune’s sister paper, reveals three potential NCAA violations made by Verlin. The law firm Ice Miller conducted the review that found the potential violations, and UI sent the report to the NCAA, the university confirmed.
The report also lists several self-imposed penalties by Idaho, including a one-game suspension for Verlin during the upcoming 2019-20 season.
All three violations appear to be minor.
One violation involves non-coach Brooks Malm acting in an apparent coaching manner. Malm, the director of player development, was reportedly seen holding a whistle in practice in September and holding play cards during a game in December. Malm and others confirmed to Ice Miller that Malm sometimes acted as a rebounder and passer during practices and held dummy playing cards during games over the past two seasons.
Under his position, Malm is not permitted to coach the team in on-court activities, according to the report.
Malm said in the report “he did not provide what he considered to be basketball instruction” during practices.
The second potential violation is heavily redacted, but is listed as a Level III violation, which is less severe than the Malm violation, which is a Level II. The NCAA classifies violations as I-IV, with “I” being the most severe and “IV” being the least severe.
The third potential violation involves two prospective athletes in pickup games.
Eric Mireri, a junior-college player, participated in a team pickup game without having the proper medical evaluations beforehand.
Jake Wells of Pullman High also participated with Mireri in pickup games and has appeared in several pickup games with Idaho players.
UI coaches said in the report they weren’t aware of Mireri’s needed medical paperwork, and they didn’t consider Wells’ pickup games as player evaluations because they were already so familiar with him.
The Mireri-Wells violation is considered a Level III in the report.
The report also lists self-imposed penalties by Idaho.
The penalties include a one-game suspension for Verlin, Malm prohibited from attending preseason workouts and regular-season practices, a $5,000 fine, a reduction in coaches’ weekly contact with players from 20 hours to 19 hours for the upcoming season and a requirement for men’s basketball members to attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar.
Idaho graduate Tom Clark of Lewiston, who provided the pro-Verlin signs at Thursday’s ceremony, told the Daily News he’s seen the report.
“I think it’s reckless how the university has handled this,” Clark said. “I am personally aware of what the allegations are, and they are minimal allegations that should not have been handled like this. The way they are being handled, it’s damaged the program.”
Clark said he’s aware of two unnamed recruits who have left the program in the wake of Verlin’s leave.
“I came up with the idea of making the signs,” Clark said. “I just wanted people there to know that there are a number of people who wanted to support Verlin and wanted him to maintain as the coach.”
Clark said he made eight signs, but easily could have made more.
“I think we could’ve at least doubled that with the number of requests for them,” he said.
Clark said he’s most impressed with Verlin’s fundraising and community involvement. He said Verlin revived the Bob White Scholarship program and started the Roundball program, which he said has raised $500,000 for the university.
“One of the things I really like about him is I have never seen a coach up there do the things in the community that he’s done as far as fundraising,” Clark said. “I know he (also) does the Readers Are Leaders program, for example, and he participates in Coaches vs. Cancer and a number of other programs as well.”
Idaho spokesman Mike Walsh said the university could have an update on the status of Verlin’s administrative leave as early as today or sometime next week.
Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (208) 883-4629 and on Twitter @stephansports.