The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Texas Southern UniversityOctober 10, 2012
New York Law School: The Fourth Annual Sports Law SymposiumOctober 12, 2012
On September 13, 2011, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) issued its findings relating to eighteen violations committed by Boise State University (“Boise”). Boise, subsequently, appealed the Committee’s findings relating to a reduction in football grant-in-aids and spring football practice opportunities to the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee (“IAC”). On June 27, 2012, IAC issued its report on these two issues. IAC rejected Boise’s argument regarding the reduction of spring football practice opportunities, but remanded the case to the Committee for reconsideration of the reduction of football grants-in-aid penalty.
After reviewing the facts of the case again, the Committee found that the following factors weigh against Boise’s position and in support of more serious penalties: 1) the failure to monitor the activities of prospects before enrollment; 2) the serious nature of the violations; 3) the competitive advantage that resulted from the violations; and 4) the failure of the athletics department to heed warnings and to provide the appropriate response when alerted to potential violations. The Committee also noted that it considered, but did not impose, more serious penalties, which were “fully appropriate under the facts of the case.”
Failure to Monitor Prospects Arriving on Campus Prior to Enrollment
The Committee pointed out several cases that show a history of requiring a heightened awareness in situations where prospects are in the locale of the institution prior to full-time enrollment. In fact, the Committee cites the University of Kansas Case and states the need for monitoring is “particularly keen” in this situation.
Serious Nature of the Violations
The violations which occurred in the Boise football program were significant in number, kind, and duration. Members of the football staff were active participants in some 63 instances of recruiting violations. These violations not only involved 63 prospective student-athletes, but also took place over a period of five years. The Committee noted that it has specifically instructed compliance staffs across the membership to: 1) educate coaches on the rules governing prospects arriving on campus before enrollment; and 2) develop procedures to learn which prospects were on campus and to monitor their activities. The Committee concluded that NCAA Bylaw 13.2 concerns were given insufficient attention and Boise failed in its duty to monitor.
It is incumbent on institutions to monitor pre-enrollment living arrangements to prevent impermissible provision of cost-free lodging, meals, transportation, and other benefits provided in association with early arrival. When there is no such monitoring, and these other impermissible benefits are provided, which occurred here, an inequitable competitive advantage is obtained, thus warranting additional sanctions.
Failure to Heed Warnings
The Committee indicated that Boise failed to monitor pre-enrollment living arrangements and members of the football staff were actively involved in assisting in procuring living arrangements. Although Boise took steps to see that prospective student-athletes arriving on campus early paid for their living expenses, the football staff members’ involvement in making these arrangements still continued in to 2009, despite warning from the NCAA that there could be no such involvement.
In sum, the Committee concluded that, as a result of the coaching staff members helping arrange housing for prospects who arrived on campus early, and in some of these instances, the prospects received discounted or cost-free housing and transportation, the football program gained a competitive advantage. Moreover, these violations in the football program form part of the basis for a lack of institutional control finding, a finding which Boise did not appeal. On remand and further consideration, therefore, the Committee reiterated its position that an additional reduction of three football grants-in-aid for two more years, a decrease of less than four percent annually, was and is warranted in this case, and is supported under Bylaw 19.5.2. To accept the self-imposed reduction of three football scholarships would unduly minimize the seriousness of the violations in this case, and fail to hold Boise appropriately accountable for its failure to maintain institutional control over its football program.