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KSU assistant Smith penalized

By Bill Felber

The duties of one Kansas State University assistant football coach have been restricted for improper cell phone contacts with recruits, K-State President Kirk Schulz confirmed Thursday.

In an interview with The Mercury, Schulz identified the coach as wide receivers coach Michael Smith. In his 16th year on the staff, Smith is one of the best-known members of Bill Snyder’s staff because he was a two-time all-conference selectee during his playing days at KSU between 1989 and 1991. He has coached at K-State during both of Snyder’s tenures here.

“We had one coach (whose duties were restricted) for making impermissible phone calls,” Schulz said, confirming that Smith was the coach. The action limits Smith’s ability to make off-campus contact with recruits for one month, although he remains on the job in other respects during that time. Schulz denied rumors that other coaches had also been cited or penalized.

Schulz indicated the violations leading to the restriction were discovered internally, and had been reported to the NCAA, along with the university’s response.

Athletics director Johyn Currie said regular self-reporting of secondary and minor violations “is routine procedure and a normal aspect of operating an NCAA member institution intercollegiate athletics program.”

He said that given the complexity of the NCAA rulebook, “more concern would generally be shown for institutions which never report any secondary infractions rather than those that regularly do.” Currie said K-State has “the utmost faith and trust in our coaches to adhere to the letter and spirit of NCAA guidelines.”

“The compliance staff doesn’t like finding stuff,” Schulz said. “They’re just trying to do their job.”

The university’s reporting of a violation involving a wire transfer of money to senior basketball player Jamar Samuels in the days prior to the NCAA Tournament — and Samuels’ suspension of K-State’s second-round NCAA game with Syracuse — has been viewed as one of the events triggering head basketball coach Frank Martin’s decision to leave for South Carolina.

Schulz made it clear he hopes there is no similar fallout from the Smith penalty. “We want Bill Snyder to coach here for as long as he wants to,” he said. He did suggest that when Snyder retires, the search for a successor will be conducted aggressively and nationally.

“Our program is at the point where I’m sure we’ll want to go the way we went with the basketball search … with a person with previous (head coaching) experience,” Schulz said.

That would appear to hurt the chances of current associate head coach Sean Snyder to succeed his father, since Sean Snyder lacks head coaching experience. Schulz conceded hearing that Snyder would like to be succeeded by his son — the president termed that “the worst-kept secret in town.”

Schulz also said the NCAA has cleared K-State of penalties from the recruiting of Michael Beasley. The NCAA last year investigated payments reportedly made by an acquaintance of Beasley’s mother to her that included her rent while she lived here.

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