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SMC coach Bennett gets 5-game suspension

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) - Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett must serve a five-game suspension and won't be allowed to recruit off campus this season as the NCAA has upheld penalties against the successful mid-major program for recruiting violations.

In making the announcement Monday from the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, the athletics governing body denied Bennett's appeal that included the claim of a procedural error involved. The school said Bennett's penalty would begin on Dec. 30 at midnight for five games, including one non-conference contest.

In March, the NCAA put Saint Mary's on four years of probation for a ``failure to monitor its men's basketball program,'' reducing scholarships by two for the 2014-15 and 15-16 seasons.

``While the College is disappointed with the decision, we respect the NCAA appeals process and will comply fully with the penalties given to our athletics program,'' the school said. ``Saint Mary's remains committed to excellence in its athletic programs, compliance with NCAA rules and the college's proud tradition of providing our students with positive, life-changing experiences. We look forward to the upcoming men's basketball season and continuing the important work of educating and developing our talented student-athletes.''

Saint Mary's will still be allowed to participate in the league tournament and the NCAA tournament but can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments not already contractually obligated to attend.

The Gaels, seeded 11th, lost 54-52 to sixth-seeded Memphis in this year's NCAA tournament and finished the season 28-7.

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