NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee: University of Southern Mississippi, Former Assistant Basketball Coach
Written by Christian Dennie
Thursday, 06 April 2017 18:17
On April 8, 2016, the Committee on Infractions (“COI”) issued its report in which COI found violations of NCAA legislation in the men’s basketball program. On the basis of those findings, COI determined this was a major infractions case and imposed penalties accordingly. This case centered on violations of NCAA bylaws governing academic fraud and impermissible financial aid to enrolled student-athletes. COI imposed a show-cause order on appellant because of his involvement in the violations.
Penalties Imposed by COI
Student-athlete 4’s prep school coach failed to fully cooperate in the investigation. Although he submitted to interviews and provided phone records to the NCAA enforcement staff, he refused to provide bank records that had a potential bearing on the source of the payments to student-athlete 4. Therefore, student-athlete 4’s prep school coach was informed in writing by the NCAA that COI prescribed a two-year show cause pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168. The show-cause period was scheduled to run from April 8, 2016, through April 7, 2018. The terms of the show cause are as follows:
a. Each year the show cause is in effect, or during each year student-athlete 4’s prep school coach is employed by a member institution, student-athlete 4’s prep school coach shall attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar;
b. Each month during the show-cause period, if student-athlete 4’s prep school coach is employed by a member institution, he shall attend monthly sessions with the compliance officer to review his recruiting and coaching activities over the past 30 days; and
c. Any member institution employing student-athlete 4’s prep school coach during the show-cause period shall file reports with the Office of the Committees on Infractions every six months detailing his activities and confirming that he is abiding by the terms of the show-cause order. Any institution that employs student-athlete 4’s prep school coach during the term of the show cause shall adhere to this penalty. If the employing institution does not agree to these restrictions, it shall appear before a panel and show cause why the restrictions should not apply.
Committee’s Resolution of the Issues Raised on Appeal
Pursuant to Bylaw 22.214.171.124, a hearing panel’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.
Bylaw 19.2.3 states that current and former institutional staff members have an affirmative obligation to cooperate fully with and assist the NCAA enforcement staff, COI and the Infractions Appeals Committee (“Committee”) to further the objectives of the NCAA and its infractions program. In the March 12, 2012, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, infractions case, a former institutional staff member refused to turn over requested information and to submit to another interview during an ongoing investigation. In that case, COI noted that Bylaw 10.1 applied to former and current institutional staff members and that “as long as the further requests are in good faith and not unduly burdensome, they must be complied with.” University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Committee on Infractions Public Report, March 12, 2012, Page No. 14.
In this case, the hearing panel established the bank record in question was a joint account between the appellant and his wife; although appellant had the ability to withdraw funds from the account, the appellant’s wife controlled the family’s finances, and alternatives for reviewing the records were offered by the NCAA enforcement staff. COI hearing transcript, Page Nos. 99 to 100.
Appellant repeatedly told the NCAA enforcement staff and COI that, while it was a joint account, his wife controlled the finances for the family and she objected to turning over the bank record to the NCAA. From the initial request made by the NCAA enforcement staff for the bank record, the appellant’s wife objected to providing the records, citing privacy concerns, and the appellant objected to the notion of providing the records over the objection of his wife. COI hearing transcript, Page Nos. 98 to 99. While the NCAA enforcement staff offered alternatives to the appellant for review of the bank record, those alternatives did not address the privacy concerns of the appellant’s wife or the intrusion into their marriage that would be caused by the appellant providing the record over the objection of his wife. COI hearing transcript, Page No. 98.
On November 4, 2014, and April 8, 2015, appellant was interviewed by the NCAA enforcement staff. In conjunction with his second interview in April 2015, appellant provided numerous pages of phone records. COI Report, Page Nos. 20 to 21. To require the appellant to provide private records for multiple individuals to review (i.e., NCAA enforcement staff and potentially COI panel members, institutional staff and lawyers with access to the case materials) over the objection of his wife, who is not subject to NCAA rules, but whose privacy would be breached, imposed an obligation that creates a substantial obstacle to appellant’s compliance with that particular request. This Committee finds in this case, where the appellant complied with all other requests, that it is unduly burdensome to require the appellant to turn over records on a joint account where the spouse, who is not subject to the requirement to cooperate, objects to such action. As such, the Committee finds the facts found by COI, weighed under the standard it set forth in the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Committee on Infractions decision, do not constitute a violation of Bylaw 19.2.3.
The Committee vacates the finding of a violation. Since no violation was found against the appellant, the Committee also vacated the penalties imposed on appellant.
For any questions, feel free to contact Christian Dennie at firstname.lastname@example.org.