The Committee on Infractions (“COI” or “panel“) found violations of NCAA legislation in University of Southern California’s (“USC” or “institution”) men’s basketball program. On the basis of the findings, COI determined that this was a Level I-Standard case for the former associate head coach and prescribed penalties accordingly. The former associate head coach (“appellant”) filed an appeal.
Appeal of Violations and Penalties
The former associate head coach appealed the violation found by the Committee on Infractions. The appealed violation is:
IV.2. The associate head coach violated legislation related to ethical conduct and representation when he accepted cash bribes in exchange for agreeing to direct Southern California basketball players to a business management company.
The former associate head coach did not appeal any of the prescribed penalties.
Committee’s Resolution of the Violations Raised on Appeal
In reviewing the decision in this case, the Infractions Appeals Committee (“Committee”) may overturn on appeal COI’s factual findings and its conclusion that one or more violations occurred only on a showing by the appealing party that:
A factual finding is clearly contrary to the information presented to the panel;
The facts found by the panel do not constitute a violation of the NCAA constitution and bylaws; or
There was a procedural error and but for the error, the panel would not have made the finding or conclusion.
In his written appeal, the appellant primarily focused on identifying inconsistencies in the evidence to demonstrate that the appealed finding of violation IV.2 (unethical conduct and representing an individual in marketing athletics ability or reputation) is clearly contrary to the information presented to the panel and that the panel erred in its application of NCAA bylaws.
The appellant argued that there was a lack of evidence supporting the NCAA enforcement staff’s argument that in exchange for money, the appellant facilitated meetings between the appellant’s student-athletes and their families, an agent associate or business management company. Specifically, the appellant argued that there is inconsistency in the evidence to find that he introduced prospective student-athletes, or their families, to an agent associate or business management company and that there is uncertainty as to the timing of when some of the meetings and introductions between the appellant, USC student-athletes, agent associate and business management company occurred. The appellant also argued that the panel appeared to agree with him that there was no quid pro quo when the hearing panel did not apply NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(j).
The panel argued that the appellant violated Bylaws 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3, which is supported by the appellant’s admissions and statements in federal court and in the infractions process. The panel also argued that the appellant admitted during the process of this infractions case that his conduct violated Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3. Specifically, the appellant admitted in federal court that he entered into an agreement for payment in exchange for funneling appellant’s student-athletes to the business management company. The panel asserted that its conclusion is supported by case-specific guidance from the NCAA’s academic and membership affairs staff, where academic and membership affairs staff confirmed that the facts constituted a violation of Bylaw 10.1-(d). Finally, the panel argued that the appellant made a radical change from his position throughout the infractions process by arguing that he did not violate Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3. The panel argued that the appellant changed his story during the infractions process, and it was too late to make such changes.
To demonstrate that a finding of violation is clearly contrary to the information presented, the appellant must show more than an alternative reading or application of the information exists. Bylaw 126.96.36.199 specifies that a finding may be set aside on appeal upon a showing that it is clearly contrary to the information presented to COI. In the University of Mississippi case, the Committee stated:
“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 Report (May 1, 1995) Page No. 10.
The appellant must demonstrate more than an alternative narrative based on the information in the record. Here, the appellant argued that since COI declined to apply Bylaw 19.9.3-(j) because it is unclear as to the timing of some of the meetings between the appellant, USC student-athletes and their families, agent associate and business management company, that appellant did not violate Bylaws 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3.
The Committee did not find such argument persuasive and found that the panel’s decision to decline to apply Bylaw 19.9.3-(j) does not mean that violations did not occur around the same facts and conduct, specifically the violations of Bylaws 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3. Further, before the panel, the appellant acknowledged the violation of Bylaws 10.1-(d) and 11.1.3. The Committee indicated the admissions the appellant made in federal court and during the infractions process undermine his arguments before the Committee. These admissions by the appellant support the panel’s finding that violation IV.2 occurred, and the appellant failed to demonstrate that this finding is contrary to the information presented. Therefore, the Committee affirmed the finding of violation.
The finding of the above-referenced violation was affirmed by the Committee.