Independent investigator leading probe into men’s basketball violations

Shaka Dixon

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The same independent investigator responsible for the university commissioned report concluding hazing occurred in incidents preceding the death of Armando Villa is now leading an ongoing probe targeting players of the CSUN men’s basketball team over possible violations of team and university rules.

“Carl Botterud of Ritt Tai Thvedt & Hodges, LLP is leading the investigation into the potential violation of team rules and University policies,” Jeff Noblitt, CSUN associate vice president, marketing and communications, said in an email.

Botterud authored the Sept. 5 report asserting that the former CSUN fraternity Pi Kappa Phi violated the university’s prohibition of hazing during the July 1 Angeles National Forest hiking incident linked to the death of the 19-year-old Villa.

The Occidental College and Whittier Law School alum leads an investigation first made public in a Nov. 5 statement by Brandon Martin, director of intercollegiate athletics, announcing that “several” CSUN men’s basketball players would be withheld from competition pending an investigation into possible violations of team and university rules.

University officials have not disclosed who or how many the “several” refer to.

CSUN athletics declined a Sundial request on Tuesday to identify which or how many players were intended to redshirt prior to the season, but indicated redshirts do not dress for games.

“I know that providing it would be a roundabout way of signaling which players are involved. For that reason, I must refer you to Dr. Martin’s statement,” Kevin Strauss, assistant sports information director, said in an email.

CSUN athletics similarly declined to disclose information regarding current injuries.

“The team does not keep an injury report, does not publish a list of injuries, and does not share injury news with other teams,” Strauss said in an email. “Due to the relationship between players and their athletic trainers and doctors, this information is rarely made public and only done so with the consent of the player due to privacy regulations.”

The Matadors’ current roster lists seven returning players, eight freshman and a now eligible 2013 transfer.

Of the nine players new to the team or recently eligible, only three have seen playing time- freshman guards Ajon Efferson and Taelin Webb and freshman forward Zacarry Douglas.

Douglas averaged 14.5 minutes in the team’s initial two games, but has not played since.

The team has since settled down on an eight-man rotation.

The team resorted to limiting court-time to only eight players just two times in 2013-2014.

Six games into the young season and the team has already tied that mark.

In the Matador’s Nov. 23 double-overtime loss to University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the team essentially relied on eight again as the ninth to come on, senior guard Robert Cid, did so with 39 seconds remaining in the second and final overtime. The team lost junior guard Landon Drew, sophomore guard Aaron Parks and junior center Tre Hale-Edmerson to fouls in the final minute of the first overtime.

Of the 1450 minutes cumulatively clocked by the team thus far, the nine new arrivals have accounted for a combined 201 minutes.