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OXFORD, Miss. – Michael and Kenya Landers, who went from Trinity Valley Community College to assistants at Ole Miss after coaching the Lady Cardinals to the national junior college basketball championship last season, have been fired.
Several Mississippi-based newspapers reported the news over the weekend. At the same time, Ole Miss head coach Adrian Wiggins was placed on administrative leave and relieved of his duties as head coach.
The actions came Saturday in the wake of allegations of impermissible recruiting contacts and academic misconduct committed by Michael Landers, who was director of basketball operations, and Kenya Landers, who was assistant to Wiggins.
Mississippi hired Adrian Wiggins on March 26, 2012, after he went 175-66 at Fresno State. He took the Bulldogs to five consecutive NCAA tournament berths. He hired the Landers, who are husband and wife, six months ago shortly after he joined Ole Miss.
The allegations, which are also being investigated by the NCAA, involve Kay Caples, who led Trinity Valley to an undefeated season, and Brandy Broome, who led Pensacola State College to the national semifinals the past two seasons. Both are 5-11 guards.
School officials said Monday that both students failed to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.
Caples was named the National Junior College Player of the Year, and Broome was named to the WBCA Coaches’ All-America honorable mention team. Caples averaged more than 20 points a game over her two seasons at Trinity Valley and finished her career there with a 70-3 record. The Lady Cardinals lost in the national championship game her freshman season.
Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork said in a release Monday:
“This is a sad day for the University of Mississippi, our profession and most importantly our student-athletes. We learned of possible violations in September and immediately began a vigorous investigation. As we discovered troubling facts, we informed the Southeastern Conference and NCAA and began taking steps to remedy the problems. Although there is no current evidence that Coach Wiggins was complicit in or had direct knowledge of this misconduct, as head coach, he is accountable for the actions of those who report to him. … We expect our staff and our student-athletes to promote and uphold our values, and I am extremely disappointed these events have occurred.”
Bjork said the search for an interim head coach for 2012-13 would begin immediately and a national search for a permanent head coach will be conducted at the end of the season.
Wiggins said he could not comment on an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“I’ve done the best I can do. It’s out of my hands. I’ll go through the process,” he said.