Not long ago Missouri's Quin Snyder was considered the best and the brightest of the nation's young basketball coaches, the odds-on favorite to succeed his mentor, Mike Krzyzewski, at Duke. No longer. The Tigers were the nation's biggest disappointment last season, tumbling from a preseason Top 10 ranking to a 16-14 record and missing the NCAA tournament. Last week Snyder took another hit when the NCAA said that it had discovered nine rules violations in the Missouri program.
It could have been worse. The NCAA was unable to support allegations of player payoffs and academic fraud, and the Tigers will not be barred from postseason play. But while Snyder, 37, said he "accepts full responsibility," the fallout followed the usual script: The coach apologized and kept his job, while his assistants headed for the exits. (Lane Odom resigned last week; Tony Harvey is on paid suspension and isn't expected to return.) Yet restoring Snyder's image won't be easy. Since he took over in 1999, his program has accumulated more than two dozen minor violations. Now SI has learned that Snyder provided a favor to an out-of-work coach whom the NCAA interviewed twice during its investigation of Missouri.
Jay Cyriac was an assistant at the College of Southern Idaho, the school Uche Okafor attended before signing with Missouri in 2001. (The NCAA looked into Missouri's recruiting of Okafor but found no violations.) In June '03 Cyriac accepted a job as DePaul's director of basketball operations, but the school rescinded the offer, citing the NCAA's refusal to give him a clean bill of health. Cyriac, 29, then moved in with his parents in Elizabeth, N.J., and took a job as a furniture-store security guard.
Since last fall, though, Cyriac has also worked as a scout with the Philadelphia 76ers, where his boss is general manager Billy King, a friend and former teammate of Snyder's at Duke. Cyriac, who shares a lawyer with Snyder, admitted that Snyder "put in a call" to King last fall to help arrange the job for him. Was that a payback to Cyriac, a coach with a tainted reputation who could have implicated Missouri in the suspect recruitment of Okafor? No, Snyder says; he was merely helping a colleague down on his luck: "I was impressed with his work ethic and made a call on his behalf, just as I am fortunate that many individuals have offered to help me along the way."