On Tuesday, the NCAA finally concluded its investigation into recruiting violations involving Central Florida's football and men's basketball teams. Both programs were hit with one-year postseason bans. Not only is UCF ineligible for a bowl game, or the NCAA basketball tournament, they will not be able to compete in the football conference championship game, or basketball conference tournament.
UCF has appealed the football postseason ban, but as it stands, the NCAA's penalties significantly shake up the 2012-13 Conference USA season.
The Knights were considered by many to be the favorites in the East Division this football season, despite a disappointing 5-7 campaign a year ago. Their ban opens up the East for to what could be a very tight race between the likes of Southern Miss, East Carolina and Marshall.
While that doesn't directly affect West division teams like Houston and Rice, the basketball ban certainly does. The top tier of talent in the conference for basketball looks to consist of Memphis, Marshall and UCF, with the Cougars and Owls lurking as potential dark horses. The Knights' exclusion from the conference tournament opens up the path that much more for two Houston-based basketball programs that are dying for an NCAA tournament berth.
Another potential ramification of the ban is that all seniors from both programs are now eligible to transfer without sitting out a year. If UCF's appeal falls through, it will be interesting to see if any Knight athletes decide to move on and finish their careers somewhere that can give them the opportunity to make the postseason.
The penalties are valid only for the upcoming 2012-13 season, so when the Knights head to the BIg East with Houston next year, they will be on even footing with the rest of the conference.