The NCAA has wiped out a small part of Tad Boyle's coaching history.
Earlier this week, NCAA sanctions were levied against the men's basketball program at the University of Northern Colorado stemming from a series of academic and recruiting violations that occurred under the watch of former coach B.J. Hill.
Hill was Boyle's top assistant during his four-year run as the Bears' head coach, and Hill took over the UNC program when Boyle moved to the University of Colorado following the Bears' 25-8 season in 2009-10.
Under Hill the following year, and while working with a roster constructed mostly by Boyle, UNC reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time after winning the Big Sky Conference tournament. That NCAA tourney appearance officially has been vacated by the NCAA.
Boyle said he was contacted by NCAA personnel during the year-plus investigation into the UNC program. The results indicated all the violations at UNC occurred under Hill's watch.
"I was expecting them to vacate wins and take away the title," Boyle said. "They deserved what they got, based on what was found. I feel bad for the players that were there...but those players know. When you have that inner peace that you know you won a championship, that you know you went to the NCAA Tournament. They're not taking their rings away from them. They're not taking their watches away from them. They're vacating the record books.
"Those players know what they did and they deserve what they got. The players weren't the ones who made mistakes. B.J. Hill and his assistant coaches are the ones that made the mistakes. They're obviously paying a big price."
Hill paid the steepest price after the investigation, getting hit with a six-year show-cause order, meaning any school that wishes to hire Hill must give reasons why that coach's restrictions should not apply. Six other Hill staff members were given show-cause orders of varying lengths.
The NCAA agreed with UNC's self-imposed one-year ban from the postseason the program served last year, and UNC will continue to have recruiting restrictions and three fewer scholarships through the 2018-19 season. UNC also was ordered to repay the money it received from its 2011 NCAA Tournament appearance.
Among a lengthy list of violations, Hill was found to have personally completed the course work for at least one student-athlete, while Hill and his staff also were found to have paid for classes prospects needed to remain eligible. The Bears reportedly recruited ineligible players under Hill but proceeded to break rules in order to get them on the court.
"When I talk to anybody that was on that team for the NCAA Tournament, I know they went there and they know they went there," Boyle said. "They can't take those memories away. They can't take those wins away. They can vacate them from the record books, but they're not going to go back and replay those games.
"The NCAA is doing what they feel they have to do, and that's all they can do when you find out about stuff that happened five or six years ago. The show-cause for B.J. and his assistants, I feel bad for them. But you make mistakes in this business, you pay for them."
Hill and his staff were fired in April 2016 and replaced by Jeff Linder, a graduate of Centaurus High School. After losing the first two games of the season, including the opener against Boyle's Buffaloes, the Bears have won nine of their past 10 games in their second year under Linder.