Georgia Tech postseason ban forces change to ACC tourney format

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner directs his team during last March’s ACC tournament (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

The NCAA brought the hammer down on Georgia Tech on Thursday, banning the Yellow Jackets from postseason play this season and placing them on probation for four years as punishment for recruiting violations committed by former assistant coach Darryl LeBarrie and a friend of head coach Josh Pastner.

While the postseason ban won’t necessarily be costly to Tech’s program since the Yellow Jackets aren’t expected to challenge for an NCAA tournament bid anyway, the fallout from the sanctions will have a direct effect on the ACC’s conference tournament next March.

Tech will be the third team in the past six seasons to miss the ACC’s signature event because of NCAA sanctions. Syracuse was also excluded in 2015 in Greensboro while Louisville missed the 2016 tournament in Washington D.C.

With only 14 teams in the field, the ACC will use a bracket that calls for only two games in its opening session on Tuesday, March 10, rather than the usual three with the top 10 teams seeded directly into Wednesday’s second round.

In addition to the one-year ban, Tech received a one-scholarship reduction over the next four years and severe limits on recruiting, along with a stiff monetary fine. According to the NCAA, a highly-rated recruit was given money by LaBarrie for a trip to an Atlanta strip club and was given impermissible benefits involving a former Yellow Jacket playing for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

“While we regret that these violations have occurred and appreciate the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ work on this case,” Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement, “we are disappointed with the severity of the penalties imposed, some of which will have a direct and unfair impact on current student-athletes.”