The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of California, Berkeley (“Cal”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case was narrow in scope and related to violations of NCAA rules governing recruiting telephone calls committed by Cal’s men’s basketball coaching staff from April 2008 to late October 2008. The violations were detected by Cal’s compliance staff and self-reported to the NCAA.
In April 2008, Cal hired a new men’s basketball coaching staff with substantial coaching experience at the Division I level. Cal’s compliance staff acted quickly in educating the newly hired staff by conducting an intiial one-hour rule session on April 9, 2008. Subsequently, Cal’s compliance staff conducted additionally monthly assistant coaches meetings relating to rules education. The Committee noted Cal’s compliance staff had measures in place for monitoring recruiting telephone calls. In accordance with Cal’s policies relating to recruiting telphone call monitoring, coaches were required to log all recruiting telephone calls in a department database. In May and June 2008, Cal’s compliance staff noticed that the men’s basketball staff was not logging their calls in the department database as required. In July 2008, the men’s basketball coaching staff began logging their calls in the database. On September 11, 2008, once the calls were logged, Cal’s compliance director identified potential recruiting telephone call violations and ultimately hired an outside firm to assist in gathering information relating to the alleged violations. After the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that four (4) coaches on the Cal men’s basketball staff made 365 impermissible telephone calls.
The Committee found that Cal committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Impermissible Telephone Calls in violation of NCAA Bylaws 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124.2, 126.96.36.199.6, and 188.8.131.52.1
From April 8, 2008 through October 24, 2008, members of Cal’s men’s basketball coaching staff made approximately 365 impermissible recruiting telephone calls to prospective student-athletes, their relatives or a legal guardian.
i. The men’s basketball coaching staff made approximately 184 calls in violation of the NCAA one call per month rule.
ii. The men’s basketball coaching staff made approximately 129 calls in violation of the NCAA two calls per week rule.
iii. The men’s basketball coaching staff made approximately 46 calls in violation of the NCAA one call per week rule.
iv. The men’s basketball coaching staff made 3 impermissible calls prior to June 15 of a prospective student-athlete’s sophomore year in high school.
v. The men’s basketball coaching staff made 2 impermissible calls to four-year prospective student-athletes prior to obtaining written permission to contact.
vi. The men’s basketball coaching staff made 1 impermissible call to a junior college prospective student-athlete.
The coaches at issue noted confusion with various aspects of the recruiting telephone call legislation including: 1) failing to document dropped calls or when messages were left for a prospective student-athlete; 2) initiating a telephone call after a permissible call was made and hanging up after one ring to let a prospective student-athlete know he was thinking about him (i.e., a signal call after the trigger call); and 3) believing that a prospective student-athlete in his junior year could be contacted once per week rather than, as the rule allows, once per month.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized Cal as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Two years of probation from February 25, 2011 through February 24, 2013.
3. Assistant coach A was precluded from engaging in any form of off-campus recruiting from November 7, 2008 through January 6, 2009 and January 7, 2009 through September 1, 2009 (precluded from contacts only). Additionally, Assistant coach A was precluded from placing or receiving recruiting telephone calls from November 7, 2008 to November 8, 2009.
4. Assistant coach B was precluded from making recruiting telephone calls from November 1, 2009 to November 15, 2009. Additionally, Assistant coach B was precluded from making telephone calls for a 90 day period commencing 15 days following the release of the report from the Committee.
5. Assistant coaches were precluded from making telephone contact with prospective student-athletes from November 15, 2009 to November 29, 2009.
6. The head coach was precluded from making telephone contact with prospective student-athletes from October 11, 2009 to October 19, 2009.
7. Official paid visits in men’s basketball will be limited to five for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.