Nebraska-Omaha's Blais, Megna Suspended
Coach, Player Will Miss 3 Games for Improper Benefit
CHN Staff Report
Distinguished Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais and junior defenseman Jaycob Megna have both been suspended three games by the university for their part in an exchange of improper benefits.
Blais self-reported the incident, which the school has called an honest mistake, earlier in December, albeit one that Blais "should've known better." The exchange took place in April.
Blais will be allowed to run practices while sitting out, and the program itself will not be subject to further sanctions. Blais can travel with the team, but must stop all coaching activities one hour prior to game time. Megna is not allowed to travel with the team, per NCAA rule.
Assistant coaches Troy Jutting and Alex Todd will coach the team in games at New Hampshire on Jan. 3-4, and against Minnesota-Duluth on Jan. 10.
Megna's three games were mandatory under NCAA rules for similar situations. Blais only had to be suspended one game, but UNO athletic director Trev Alberts believed three games was more fair.
“I told Dean, I can't look myself in the mirror watching a kid sit three games and the coach — who's the adult and who gave it to him — sits one," Alberts told the Omaha World-Herald. "He didn't disagree.”
According to the Herald, the situation began when a watch that Megna was given by his father, was stolen out of the Mavericks' locker room in October 2012. The NCAA allows schools to ask for a waiver to reimburse the player under similar circumstances, but UNO's compliance department told Megna it could not reimburse him.
“That was the wrong answer,” Alberts told the Herald. “We could've reimbursed him through the NCAA if we had just filled out a few forms.”
In April 2013, Megna purchased a new watch, and Blais reimbursed him himself. The report says the exchange was not done in secret, but it was nonetheless careless on Blais' part.
“Dean's been a head coach a long time and should've known," Alberts told the paper.
Blais wound up self-reporting the incident after he read about a similar situation during an NCAA compliance seminar.
Megna donated the $400 to charity, the Herald reported. He ultimately was, in fact, reimbursed by the athletic department.