The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently released its findings and found that Arkansas Tech University (“ATU”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. This case centered on ATU providing impermissible benefits to student-athletes from 2009 to 2013. During that time, ATU paid the required on-campus housing security deposits or waived the deposits entirely for 57 prospective and enrolled student-athletes in five sports. ATU committed further violations when it reserved rooms in campus housing for an indeterminate number of student-athletes. Because ATU did not have procedures in place to monitor certain aspects of the housing operation, the violations also constituted a failure to monitor. After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations of NCAA legislation. However, there was a dispute regarding a proposed penalty, thus the Committee held an expedited penalty hearing.
The Committee found that ATU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 13.2.1 (2009-10 through 2013-14); 184.108.40.206-(d), 220.127.116.11.1 (2009-10 through 2012-13); 18.104.22.168 (2009-10 through 2013-14)
The NCAA enforcement staff and ATU agree that between 2009 and 2013, ATU provided impermissible benefits by waiving or paying the housing security deposits and reserving rooms in the institution’s on-campus University Commons Apartments/Phase II Apartments (Apartments) for 57 prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in five sports. The total value of the security deposits waived or paid on behalf of prospective student-athletes and student-athletes was $14,250.
Between the 2009-10 and the 2012-13 academic year, ATU’s office of residence life (housing office) waived the required security deposit (a value of $250 each for a total of $13,250) for 50 incoming prospective student-athletes and three returning student-athletes across five sports to live in the on-campus apartments because of their status as athletes. The waiver of prospective student-athletes’ and student-athletes’ security deposits was contrary to an established written policy requiring security deposit payments prior to being permitted to reside in the apartments. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 22.214.171.124-(d), 126.96.36.199.1 and 188.8.131.52 (2009-10 through 2012-13).
During August 2012, ATU permitted the head women’s basketball coach to pay the required security deposit to live in the Apartments on behalf of four incoming women’s basketball prospective student-athletes and two returning women’s basketball student-athletes (a value of $250 each for a total of $1,500) by using the women’s basketball camp endowment operating budget. However, the security deposit was not an established covered expense for an athletics grant-in-aid and no established written policy existed to permit the payment of a student’s security deposit by an institutional department. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 184.108.40.206-(d), 220.127.116.11.1 and 18.104.22.168 (2012-13).
From 2009 through 2013, numerous prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in the sports of men’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s basketball, women’s golf and women’s volleyball received reserved rooms in the Apartments despite that the benefit generally was unavailable to nonstudent-athletes at that housing facility. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1 (2009-10 through 2013-14); 22.214.171.124 (2009-10 through 2013-14).
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Constitution 2.8.1
The NCAA enforcement staff and ATU agree that the scope and nature of the violations above demonstrate that ATU failed to adequately monitor certain aspects of its housing operations related to prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in that the institution failed to ensure (a) it had monitoring procedures in place to detect that prospective student-athletes and student-athletes who did not pay the required security deposits were permitted to live in the University Commons Apartments/Phase II (Apartments) and (b) that the payment of six women’s basketball prospective student-athletes’ and student-athletes’ security deposits by the women’s basketball camp budgets and the reservation of rooms in the Apartments for prospective student-athletes and student-athletes were available to nonstudent-athletes and in compliance with NCAA legislation. As a result, 57 prospective student-athletes and student-athletes received impermissible benefits.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized ATU as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Two years of probation from June 4, 2015, through June 3, 2017.
3. Financial aid reductions in men’s basketball for the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 academic year, 0.5 each year over the two academic years off of the four-year average of 8.58 – a total reduction of 1.0.
4. Financial aid reductions in women’s basketball for the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 academic year, 0.35 each year over the two academic years off of the four-year average of 8.99 – a total reduction of .7.
5. Reduction in men’s basketball recruiting calendars for two academic years of two weeks each during the June 15 to August 1 evaluation period, beginning June 15, 2014, and ending June 15, 2016.
6. Reduction in women’s basketball recruiting calendars for one academic year of three weeks during June 15 to August 1 evaluation, beginning June 15, 2014, and ending June 15, 2015.
7. Reduction of one official visit in men’s basketball off of the four-year average of 4.5 during the 2014-15 academic year.
8. Reduction of one official visit in women’s basketball off of the four-year average of 5.25 during 2014-15 academic year.
9. Reduction of countable athletic related activity hours in men’s basketball during the championship segment (October 2014 to March 2015 and October 2015 to March 2016) from 20 hours a week to 18 hours a week, for a total yearly reduction of 32 hours (two hours per week x 16 weeks) — a total of 64 hours.
10. Reduction of countable athletic related activity hours in women’s basketball during the championship segment (October 2014 to March 2015) and (October 2015 to March 2016) from 20 hours a week to 18 hours a week, for a total yearly reduction of 32 hours (two hours per week x 16 weeks) – a total of 64 hours.
11. A financial penalty of $5,000.
12. ATU’s vice president who oversees the housing office and the athletics compliance officer shall attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar during the first year of probation.
13. ATU shall vacate all wins in which ineligible student-athletes competed.