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Troubled Binghamton bows out of America East Tourney

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Binghamton will keep its troubled men's basketball program from participating in the America East Conference Tournament.

Yesterday, three days before the tournament was scheduled to get under way in West Hartford, Conn., the school announced its decision in a statement.

"After numerous discussions and considerations of the possible distractions that may occur this weekend, Binghamton University has elected not to participate" in the tournament, where the Bearcats, who finished 13-18 overall and 8-8 in the conference under interim coach Mark Macon, were to be the No. 5 seed.

"This action is being done voluntarily as part of our commitment to move forward as we develop a comprehensive plan to address the recommendations of the recent review."

That review, issued earlier this month after a four-month investigation into the athletic department, found school officials failed to act when problems arose, including dubious enrollments and lax enforcement of academic standards for athletes.

The report concluded that academic integrity was sacrificed after the school moved in 2001 from Division III to the world of big-time college athletics.

SUNY began its investigation in October after six players were kicked off the team, with one being arrested on cocaine charges. Coach Kevin Broadus was suspended with pay from his $217,000 job after the university self-reported recruiting violations.

Athletics director Joel Thirer resigned after a female employee claimed she was sexually harassed and filed a lawsuit against two athletics officials and two boosters.

In addition, there were allegations that an athletics employee had pressured an adjunct lecturer into giving preferential treatment to an athlete.

The tournament, now down to eight teams, will begin Saturday with the quarterfinals. Top-seeded Stony Brook will play Albany in its opening game.

Yesterday's statement said the school commended "our student-athletes and coaches for the dedication and determination they have maintained throughout this very challenging year. They have far surpassed expectations. However, with the controversy currently surrounding the program, it is not appropriate we play in this year's postseason." - AP

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