Aldin Ayo banned indefinitely from the UAAP

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 04:56 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2020 02:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- (2nd UPDATE) Former University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Aldin Ayo has been banned indefinitely from the UAAP.

This comes after the UAAP Board of Trustees, a body composed of the presidents of the eight universities, ratified the recommendations earlier made by the Board of Managing Directors (BMD).

The UAAP BMD last week recommended sanctions against Ayo for his role in the controversial "Sorsogon bubble," where the UST men's basketball team conducted a training camp in his hometown, in a potential violation of quarantine protocols.

In a statement, the UAAP said Ayo has been banned "indefinitely from participating, in any capacity, in all UAAP events and UAAP sanctioned-activities."

"The ban is based on the UST report that showed Ayo endangering the health and well-being of the student-athletes under his charge when he conducted the training during a government-declared state of public emergency intended to arrest the COVID-19 outbreak," the league said.

Cansino exit bursts UST's bubble

Ayo resigned from his post as UST head coach last September 5, ending a two-year stint at the helm of one of the UAAP's oldest and proudest basketball programs. In Season 81, his first year in charge, he steered the Growling Tigers to a rebuild after a dismal one-win campaign in the previous season.

In Season 82, Ayo and the Growling Tigers exceeded all expectations as they made it all the way to the finals by upsetting the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the step-ladder Final 4. They lost to defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in the championship series, but their performance made it clear that the future was bright in España.

With reigning MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, and up-and-coming stars Rhenz Abando and CJ Cansino, the Tigers seemed poised to contend in the years to come.

But Cansino's explosive exit from UST in late August led to the revelation that the Growling Tigers have been training in Sorsogon, Ayo's hometown, since June. 

The university conducted an internal investigation that was eventually submitted to the UAAP. The Department of Health, the Philippine Sports Commission, the Games and Amusements Board, and the Commission on Higher Education also got involved in the matter.

After a long discussion last week, the BMD decided to recommend sanctions against Ayo, although they declined to provide specific details at the time.

On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees ratified their decision, which will prevent Ayo from getting involved in any UAAP activity for the foreseeable future. 

UST's men's basketball program is still reeling because of the issue. Aside from Cansino's exit -- and subsequent transfer to UP -- UST has also lost several key players including Abando, Brent Paraiso, and Ira Bataller.

CHED investigation now in DOJ, DILG's hands 

Even with the UAAP having taken action already, the situation is not still completely resolved. 

On Monday, CHED chairman Popoy de Vera confirmed that they have completed their own investigation on UST, as well as National University -- another school whose varsity team was alleged to have conducted a training camp.

CHED will issue show-cause orders to both schools, and their report has been submitted to the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government as well. Further investigations will be conducted by both departments, to determine if the universities violated the rules of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

The UAAP said they will "follow these developments before discussing the next action on the case."

According to De Vera, it is still too early to determine if they will impose any sanctions on UST, as they will first await the response of the university to their show-cause order.

As for Ayo, he has already said that he intends to "take responsibility for my action and shall face the appropriate sanctions."

"I shall go for a personal retreat," he also said. "I thank the UST community for their faith and the continued support for the team."

Before coaching UST, Ayo burst into the collegiate basketball scene by steering an upstart Colegio de San Juan de Letran squad to the NCAA Season 91 title, where they pulled off an upset against archrivals San Beda University. He jumped ship to the UAAP soon after, taking over the head coaching position in De La Salle University.

He guided the Green Archers to a dominant campaign and the title in UAAP Season 79, before falling short of a repeat in Season 80 when they lost to the Blue Eagles in three games.