Waiting game continues for Rainbow Warriors postseason fate

Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 at 4:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big West men's basketball tournament gets underway three weeks from Thursday in Anaheim, California.  Whether or not the University of Hawaii men's basketball team will be a part of it remains in doubt.

That is due to the postseason ban, among other penalties, handed down by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions in 2015 for violations of association rules regarding impermissible coaching activities, coaching limitations, extra benefits and participation of ineligible student athletes under then-head coach Gib Arnold.

UH appealed the sanctions in February of 2016 and eight months later on October 28th, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled that the penalties levied against the UH program must be reconsidered.

Fast forward to today, and the university still doesn't have a final answer.

"It's a very tough situation," said UH head coach Eran Ganot.  "You feel like it's right around the corner, but I didn't know we'd get into February 14th with that question still being asked."

The NCAA has provided no timetable for when UH might expect a ruling to come down.  The postseason ban could be postponed until next year, but the university is still waiting for more information.

In the meantime, the Big West conference is preparing for two different scenarios: one with Hawaii in the tournament and one without.  UH has contingency plans of their own in place, but no final travel arrangements to California have been made.

"It's not just us," Ganot said.  "It's the conference, it's our fans, it's travel arrangements.  It's tough."

Herein lies the issue with the slow wheels of justice of the NCAA.  They have many open investigations on their plate, and their drawn out decision is not only affecting UH, but the rest of the conference.

According to David Ridpath, NCAA compliance expert at the at the University of Ohio, often times these rulings are at the whim of the people who are adjudicating them.

"Yes they (UH) should have had an answer by now," said Ridpath.  "Is it unusual?  Not completely.  It's not the most fair process, it doesn't operate on a reasonable timeline like people would want.  It leaves Hawaii hanging in the balance.  They really have no choice but to go full steam ahead as if they were going to be in the conference tournament."

That is exactly the mentality of the Rainbow Warriors heading into the final five games of the regular season.  If the postseason were to start today, the 'Bows would be fourth seed in the Big West Tournament.

"Our goal is to win the Big West, or at least finish as high as we can," said junior forward Gibson Johnson.  "Not being able to play in the tournament doesn't affect us that much."

When the NCAA will make a final ruling is anyone's guess.

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