Hawaii wins appeal to play in postseason, defend Big West title

The Hawaii men's basketball team won an appeal to play in the 2017 postseason and will be able to defend its Big West Conference tournament championship next week at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The NCAA announced Friday that the program won't have to serve the penalty that was issued by the committee on infractions in 2015. The COI took the unusual step then of not forcing Hawaii to serve the postseason ban in 2016, instead choosing to put it off for the 2017 tournament.

"It was a special moment to let the team know," Hawaii coach Eran Ganot said. "I let them know in the airport right before we boarded for the final game of the season. This team has been through a lot and have handled unique circumstances unbelievably well and professionally."

During the appeal, the university argued that the penalties should have been under a former infractions structure because the violations occurred before Oct. 30, 2012, the date of the new infractions structure adopted by the Division I board of directors. The COI appeals committee ruled the infractions panel should reconsider the case.

Hawaii's probationary period was reduced from three to two years and a scholarship penalty reduction was changed from two to one for the next two years.

The appeals committee changed the case from a Level II aggravated case to a Level II standard case, thus lowering the penalties.

The violations were deemed to be compliance issues with the previous coaching staff under Gib Arnold and the school.

Hawaii is 8-7 this season, 14-14 overall and tied for fourth in the Big West heading into its season finale Saturday at Long Beach State.

Hawaii, which was a No. 13 seed, reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, beating Cal in the first round before losing to Maryland. Hawaii finished 28-6 overall, 13-3 in the Big West last season.

This was considered a rebuilding season under Ganot.