Cal State Northridge places basketball coach Mark Gottfried on leave

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J. Brady McCollough
·2 min read
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North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried coaches from the sidelines during the first half.
Mark Gottfried and his Cal State Northridge coaching staff were placed on paid administrative leave by the university Thursday. (Karl B. DeBlaker / Associated Press)

Cal State Northridge men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried has said he enjoyed being out of the spotlight that he experienced as the head coach for 17 years at Alabama and North Carolina State.

But it appears some of the issues he encountered in his former life followed him to Southern California.

Cal State Northridge announced Thursday it placed Gottfried and its men’s basketball staff on paid administrative leave.

“Upon learning of potential rules violations within our men’s basketball program, I directed an immediate review,” Cal State Northridge athletic director Michael Izzi said in a statement.

“Our focus will be on the welfare of our student-athletes and ensuring their academic, athletic and personal success. CSUN does not comment on specific employee issues and cannot elaborate further about the nature of the potential violations while the review is underway. However, CSUN is committed to ensuring full compliance with all university and NCAA regulations while maintaining the highest standards of integrity and institutional responsibility.”

Gottfried already has one NCAA infractions case pending from his time at North Carolina State, and it’s a big one. The NCAA in July 2019 accused N.C. State of two Level I violations involving Gottfried, assistant coach Orlando Early and star point guard Dennis Smith Jr. for an allegation that was part of the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

Prosecutors in the U.S. District Court in New York alleged former Adidas consultant Thomas Gassnola funneled $40,000 through Early to Smith’s father in 2015 to guarantee his son played for the school.

After hiring Gottfried in 2018, a Northridge spokesman said “there are no red flags whatsoever” with Gottfried and his contract with the school included language denying he or his assistants participated in any activities linked to the federal investigation.

The NCAA forwarded N.C. State’s case to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, a group created for complex cases to be investigated without any perceived conflicts of interest.

The IARP was reportedly in its process with N.C. State as of December 2020 but has not given a ruling.

It remains to be seen what potential rule violations occurred at Cal State Northridge. In three seasons with the Matadors, Gottfried’s teams have gone 37-51 overall and 22-24 in the Big West. They’ve finished with a losing record each season.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.