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Keanu Pinder, Mark Phelps suspensions due to plane ticket purchase, per report

Phelps reportedly paid for Pinder to fly home to Australia

NCAA Basketball: Northern Arizona at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Wildcats forward Keanu Pinder and assistant coach Mark Phelps were suspended Friday for breaking NCAA rules, it was announced shortly before UA’s season-opener vs. NAU.

Pinder was handed a one-game suspension, while Phelps was suspended five days without pay.

The reasoning was unclear — all the UA said is Phelps’ suspension was not related to the ongoing federal investigation — but now KVOA is reporting that the suspensions were the result of Phelps buying Pinder a ticket to fly home to Australia.

The good news for Arizona is that’s a minor violation. Pinder will be back Sunday vs. UMBC, while Phelps will be back Nov. 15. Not much harm done.

The bad news is these suspensions are just the latest in a string of issues the UA basketball program has had off the court lately.

Here are the others in the last three seasons alone:

  • Elliott Pitts was suspended in 2015-16 for sexual misconduct and eventually left the program.
  • Allonzo Trier was suspended in 2016-17 for 19 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
  • This offseason, assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested, suspended, and indicted for his role in a recruiting bribery scandal (which could lead to more problems down the road for Arizona).
  • Last week, Dylan Smith was suspended for the regular season opener after violating team rules.
  • (You could also throw in Chance Comanche’s academic suspension before the start of the 2016-17 season, too.)

The program can do better.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire