On April 14, 2017, the Committee on Infractions (“COI”) issued its report in which COI found violations of NCAA legislation in the University of Alabama football program. On the basis of those findings, COI determined this was a major infractions case and imposed penalties accordingly. The case centered on violations of NCAA bylaws governing recruiting and unethical conduct.
Penalties Imposed by COI
COI imposed a show-cause order because of the involvement of the former assistant coach in the violations. COI imposed a two-year show-cause order for any member institution(s) employing the former assistant coach. Any institution employing the former assistant coach must restrict him from all off-campus recruiting activities as defined by NCAA Bylaw 13.02.14 (2016-17 Division I Manual) during the show-cause order.
Committee’s Resolution of the Issues Raised on Appeal
Pursuant to Bylaw 126.96.36.199, COI’s factual findings and its conclusion that one or more violations occurred shall not be set aside on appeal except on a showing by the appealing party that:
a. A factual finding is clearly contrary to the information presented to the panel;
b. The facts found by the panel do not constitute a violation of the NCAA constitution and bylaws; or
c. There was a procedural error and but for the error, the panel would not have made the finding or conclusion.
“A showing that there was some information that might have supported a contrary result will not be sufficient to warrant setting aside a finding nor will a showing that such information might have outweighed the information on which the committee based a finding. The Infractions Appeals Committee . . . will set aside a finding only on a showing that information that might have supported a contrary result clearly outweighed the information on which the Committee on Infractions based the finding.” University of Mississippi, Infractions Appeals Committee Public Report May 1, 1995, Page No. 10.
The hearing panel determines the credibility of the evidence.
As stated in the Alabama State case:
“…we conclude that an abuse of discretion in the imposition of a penalty occurs if the penalty: (1) was not based on a correct legal standard or was based on a misapprehension of the underlying substantive legal principles; (2) was based on a clearly erroneous factual finding; (3) failed to consider and weigh material factors; (4) was based on a clear error of judgment, such that the imposition was arbitrary, capricious, or irrational; or (5) was based in significant part on one or more irrelevant or improper factors.” Alabama State University, Infractions Appeals Committee Public Report June 30, 2009, Page No. 23.
Through the summary disposition process, the parties agreed to the factual findings and conclusion that the former assistant coach committed unethical conduct related to NCAA recruiting legislation, a Level I aggravated violation. In his appeal, the former assistant coach challenged the commencement date of the two-year show-cause order imposed by COI and argued the penalty should be applied from April 27, 2016, factoring in “time served” since his resignation from the institution on that date.
COI argued the two-year show-cause order, which permitted the former assistant coach to participate in all coaching activities except off-campus recruiting, was already more lenient than the proscribed ranges set forth in the penalty guidelines for a Level I aggravated violation, and neither the NCAA bylaws nor past cases require consideration of “time served.” For these reasons, COI argued it did not abuse its discretion in prescribing the two-year show-cause penalty to begin on the date it issued its decision, consistent with its standard practice.
In the record of this case, many of the factors identified by the former assistant coach as not considered were, in fact, included in the Summary Disposition Report and considered/reviewed by COI. Further, the former assistant coach was provided substantial leniency by COI. The prescription of a two-year show-cause order, which restricted only the former assistant coach’s ability to participate in off-campus recruiting, was a deviation from the prescribed range for a Level I aggravated violation. According to the penalty matrix found in Figure 19-1 (2016-17 NCAA Division I Manual) a Level I aggravated violation would be subject to a show-cause order ranging from a minimum of five (5) years to a maximum of ten (10) years with a prohibition on all athletically related duties.
Therefore, the timing of the two-year show-cause penalty is not an abuse of discretion and is affirmed.
The Committee affirmed the penalty.