California State University, Fresno head men’s basketball coach Ray Lopes is resigning immediately from his position with the men’s basketball program based on his involvement in NCAA rules violations in the recruiting process.
Interim Athletics Director Dr. Paul Oliaro announced the coach’s resignation today.
“Coach Lopes is resigning from his position at the university as the result of his asserted mistaken understanding of the application of the telephone contact recruiting rule regarding prospective student-athletes,” Oliaro said. Lopes has acknowledged the rule violations to university president John D. Welty and other campus officials.
“When I came here I made a commitment to running a program with no violations,” Lopes said. “I recognize that there have been violations of the telephone contact rule in the recruitment of some prospective student-athletes. I regret that occurred.
“I am a man of my word and am true to the commitment I made when I came here. I am resigning at this time in the best interest of the Fresno State program and to minimize any potential jeopardy for the university.”
Oliaro said Lopes had been helpful and cooperative during the investigation. The
investigation is continuing, but Oliaro said enough was confirmed at this point to determine that violations of the NCAA rule had occurred. In accordance with the NCAA enforcement policies and procedures cooperative principle, the university cannot comment any further on the scope of its review in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.
“Coach Lopes provided many memorable and historic moments for the Bulldog men’s basketball program, including a Western Athletic Conference title during his first year as coach,” Oliaro said. “I respect him for his forthrightness in this matter and for accepting responsibility for the problem.”
According the President Welty, when Coach Lopes was hired in April 2002, it was made clear to him that there would be no tolerance for NCAA rule violations in any area he
supervised. He acknowledged his involvement in what could be considered either a secondary, or possibly, a major rule violation. Based on Coach Lopes’ acknowledgement, the university has accepted his resignation and his pledge to work with the university and the NCAA in completing its review of this matter.
The university is working jointly and in cooperation with the NCAA to establish the full extent of possible NCAA rules violations. The review is dedicated to examining all of the relevant facts and then reporting them to the NCAA and the Western Athletic Conference as required under each of those organizations’ policies and procedures. No additional specifics on this matter will be made available until the investigation is complete.
After consultation with President Welty, Oliaro plans to organize and complete a search for a new head men’s basketball coach as soon as possible.
“We will be seeking a coach who is able to maintain the highest level of competitiveness at the Division I level while ensuring compliance with rules and the academic standards of the university,” Oliaro said.
Lopes completed his first season at Fresno State with a 20-8 record and a Western Athletic Conference title. Last year the team recorded a 14-15 record. During the just completed 2004-05 season the team had a 16-14 record and did not qualify for post-season play.
Prior to his service at Fresno State Lopes served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma, Washington State, the University of California, Santa Barbara, Weber State and West Valley Community College in Saratoga, California. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Albertson College in 1987.
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