Graves: Nothing to hide in program
EUGENE — No. 10 Oregon’s practice on Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena was open to the media, per the team’s usual policy.
As far as coach Kelly Graves is concerned, there is nothing to hide.
The women’s basketball program self-reported two violations detailed in the NCAA’s notice of allegations made public last Thursday. The Oregon men’s basketball (three violations), track and field (one) and football (one) programs also admitted to rules violations.
The athletic department will contest the severity of the infractions with the NCAA, which labeled the violations as Level II, indicating “a significant breach of conduct.”
In the notice of allegations, the NCAA alleged that Graves failed to monitor his program and also did not promote an atmosphere for compliance by having an assistant strength and conditioning coach participate in on-court basketball-related activities.
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really anything major, those infractions, but we do take them serious,” Graves said after Wednesday’s practice. “It was something that I knew better and our staff knew better. But I don’t think it has affected us as a team.
“It just goes to show even an old dog like me, sometimes we make mistakes and we need to learn from them and make sure they don’t happen again.”
The Ducks (11-2) are preparing for today’s Pac-12 opener against Washington State at Matthew Knight Arena (3 p.m., no television).
After the allegations were made public, Oregon wrapped up nonconference play with blowout wins over then-No. 19 Texas A&M (84-62) and Hawaii (85-44) in Las Vegas.
“We’ve tried to insulate the team from it. They knew it was coming, we were open with them,” Graves said. “We made some mistakes and actually were the ones that kind of turned ourselves in on that once we realized we were doing something that we weren’t supposed to.”
Graves and men’s basketball coach Dana Altman were both named in the NCAA notice of allegations. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens defended both coaches in a statement.
“Coach Altman and coach Graves are committed to compliance with NCAA bylaws, they have the highest ethical standards on and off the court, and each acknowledges the infractions that took place within their programs,” Mullens said. “In both cases, our monitoring program identified the issues and they were reported to the NCAA. We have addressed the matters with the responsible employees and enhanced compliance training within the department.
“These cases do not merit the level of charges against the coaches sought by the NCAA.”
Essentially the Oregon women’s basketball program exceeded the NCAA limit for coaches because an assistant strength and conditioning coach rebounded shots for players during workouts.
Graves isn’t hiding from the mistake as Oregon prepares to respond to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and then awaits possible penalties.
“I’m the head coach so it falls on me, and that’s OK. I’ll accept what happens out of this,” Graves said. “Listen, I’m focused on going forward and working with this team because I think we can do some great things. We’ll learn from our mistakes.”
Oregon, coming of the program’s first appearance in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament, is among the favorites to win the Pac-12.