The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that Arizona State University (“ASU”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case involved ASU’s baseball program and primarily dealt with violations pertaining to impermissible telephone calls consisting of at least five hundred (500) impermissible telephone calls, improper reductions to financial aid during the term of the award, violations of coaching staff limits including the improper categorization of coaches as managers, the improper use of an outside consultant, and payment to student-athletes for work not performed. The NCAA enforcement staff and ASU were in agreement as it relates to many of the violations committed, but disagreed as it pertains to charges for lack of institutional control, failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance (in some respects), and that many of the violations had elements of secondary violations rather than major violations.
The Committee found that ASU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Recruiting Violations – Impermissible Telephone Calls in violation of NCAA Bylaws 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.6
a. Telephone calls made by the baseball coaching staff, including the former head baseball coach, were made impermissibly. At least four hundred ninety (490) telephone calls were made in violation of the NCAA one-call-per-week rule and approximately twenty-five (25) impermissible calls were placed prior to July 1st following prospective student-athletes’ junior year in high school. The telephone calls at issue were discovered over two (2) years after they were made after allegations surfaced relating to alleged impropriety in the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete. The Committee noted that the former head coach did not keep contemporaneous documentation of calls made and nearly fourteen hundred (1,400) calls would have been considered impermissible if a three-minute filter was not used.
2. Violations of Recruiting and Financial Aid Legislation in violation of NCAA Bylaws 11.7.4, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52.1, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168.1, 22.214.171.124-(c) and 126.96.36.199.2
a. The former head coach directed a baseball staff member described as a manager to have impermissible telephone (thirty-three (33) impermissible telephone calls) and in-person, off-campus contact with a prospect, which ultimately led to the prospect de-committing from another institution and signing a National Letter of Intent (“NLI”) with ASU. The manager’s impermissible recruitment in large part began due to the manager’s pre-existing relationship with the prospect and the former head coach directing him to contact and personally visit the prospect. Additionally, the former head coach made four (4) impermissible calls to the prospect in violation of the one-call-per-week rule.
b. The former head coach requested that four (4) enrolled student-athletes give back their financial aid as a part of the “Devil to Devil” program during the term of the award. The “Devil to Devil” program calls for student-athletes to relinquish their aid to be provided to other Devils. ASU decreased said student-athletes’ athletically-related financial aid to provide to prospects entering ASU during the winter term. Historically, the program occurred at the conclusion of the academic year and did not occur during the period of the award. The Committee chastised ASU for placing student-athletes in a precarious position in which they may have felt like they were required to relinquish their aid.
3. Violations of the Coaching Staff Limitations in violation of NCAA Bylaws 188.8.131.52.1, 184.108.40.206.1.4, 11.7.4, 220.127.116.11.1
a. ASU used four (4) managers (former baseball student-athletes at ASU) over the course of a four (4) year time period that engaged in on-field coaching activities during practice and games on more than an occasional basis. It was reported that said managers instructed student-athletes relating to technique and pitching, created scouting reports and analysis of future opponents, hit fungoes, pitched batting practice, conducted a conditioning program, and relayed pitching signals. These activities continued after being instructed by ASU and the Pac-10 Conference to cease such activity.
4. Violations of Coaching Staff Limitations and Duties – Use of Outside Consultants in violation of NCAA Bylaws 18.104.22.168.1.4, 11.7.4, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199.1, 188.8.131.52.1
a. From the spring of 2004 to the spring of 2008, ASU impermissibly used the staff of a privately-owned athletics training facility on ASU’s campus to conduct physical conditioning, which resulted in an extra benefit to numerous student-athletes valued at $60,000.00. The former head coach did not prefer to use ASU in-house strength and conditioning staff, thus ASU entered into a contractual agreement to use the services of the owner of the private facility to conduct strength and conditioning work with the owner, individually. The contract was directly with the owner and not the facility; therefore, NCAA legislation requires that only the owner could oversee such work without counting against the coaching staff limitations. Over the course of time, other instructors at the private facility met and worked with student-athletes, thus violations occurred.
5. Violations of Student-Athlete Employment Criteria – Payment for Work Not Performed in violation of NCAA Bylaws 12.4.1-(a) and 184.108.40.206
a. The former head coach operated a nonprofit organization providing an outreach program for youths. From September 2006 to November 2007, twenty (20) student-athletes were employed by the former head coach and received $5,889.34 for work they did not perform. Student-athletes were not required to sign-in or clock-in and out for work and were paid $250.00 per month for work that was to total four (4) hours per month. Contemporaneous records for work actually performed were not kept and many student-athletes testified that they may have worked less than four (4) hours during a given month.
6. Responsibility of Head Coach – Failure to Promote an Atmosphere for Compliance in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11
a. Between January 2004 and June 2009, the former head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the baseball program and failed to monitor activities regarding compliance of the administrators involved with the baseball program who reported to him in connection with the phone call violations (Point 1), the prospect violations (Point 2), the coaching staff limits (Point 3), the private facility (Point 4), and the youth program violation (Point 5).
7. Lack of Institutional Control in violation of NCAA Constitution 18.104.22.168.1 and 6.01.1
a. ASU demonstrated a lack of institutional control by not ensuring adequate NCAA rules education to all members of the baseball staff and failing to have adequate systems to detect over five hundred (500) impermissible telephone calls that went undetected over the course of five (5) years.
b. ASU demonstrated a lack of institutional control by not providing adequate NCAA rules education to all members of the baseball staff and not adequately monitoring the baseball program’s use of managers and other non-coaching staff for a total of three (3) academic years.
c. ASU demonstrated a lack of institutional control by not providing adequate NCAA rules education to all members of the baseball staff and members of the private facility and not adequately monitoring the baseball program’s relationship with the private facility while violations occurred over the course of four (4) years.
d. ASU demonstrated a lack of institutional control by not providing adequate NCAA rules education to all members of the baseball staff by not adequately monitoring the former head coach’s employment of student-athletes in his youth baseball program that resulted in violations going undetected for two (2) years.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized ASU as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Three years of probation from December 15, 2010 through December 14, 2013.
3. ASU’s baseball team shall end the championship segment of its 2011 seasons with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition. During the 2010-11 academic year, the baseball team may not take advantage of the exceptions to the limitation in the number of baseball contests that are provided in Bylaw 17.2.5.
4. Baseball grants-in-aid will be reduced by two (2) for one year at the first opportunity but no later than 2011-12 (Self-imposed).
5. ASU shall vacate all contests won during the 2007 baseball season and shall vacate its Pac-10 championship title, its Tempe regional title, its Tempe super regional title, its College World Series appearance, and its fifth (5th) place national finish. ASU shall also return any NCAA trophies or other awards obtained and all records shall reflect the vacation of victories.
6. Official paid visits in baseball are limited to nine (9) for the 2010-11 academic year (Self-imposed).
7. The former head coach was prevented from making any telephone calls during the first two (2) weeks of September 2008 and he was prohibited from participating in the first (3) practices of fall 2008 (Self-imposed).
8. Reduced by one (1) in the number of baseball coaches allowed to recruit off-campus for one (1) week during the fall 2008 contact period (Self-imposed).
9. Reduced by one (1) the number of baseball coaches allowed to participate in practice activities during the 2008 fall forty-five (45) days of practice – to address the issue of impermissible participation of managers in practice (Self-imposed).
10. No recruiting telephone calls were made by baseball staff members during July 2010 and July 2011 (Self-imposed).
11. Reduced the number of coaches participating in off-campus recruiting for baseball from three (3) to two (2) for the 2010-11 academic year (Self-imposed).
12. ASU will cease the practice of requesting baseball student-athletes to relinquish their financial aid for the purpose of providing it to incoming student-athletes (i.e., the Devil-to-Devil program).
13. Any institution desiring to employee the former head coach shall prohibit him from participating in any telephone calls to prospective student-athletes for one (1) year commencing on December 15, 2010 and concluding on December 14, 2011. Additionally, if the former head coach is ever employed by a member institution, then he is required to attend an NCAA regional rules seminar at his own expense. Any institution desiring to hire the former head coach shall be required to send a report to the Committee confirming that the former head coach has complied with the provisions of this show-cause penalty.