The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions (“COI” or “Committee”) is an independent administrative body comprised of individuals from the NCAA Division II membership and the public charged with deciding infractions cases involving member institutions and their staffs. COI is charged with deciding infractions cases involving member institutions and their staffs. This case involved ethical conduct and responsibility to cooperate violations by a former assistant football and strength and conditioning coach at Ohio Dominican University (“ODU”), who jeopardized student-athlete well-being when he directed student-athletes to use a banned substance. COI considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process in which all participating parties agreed to the primary facts and violations as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). COI proposed additional penalties for ODU and a show-cause order for the assistant football coach. ODU accepted the penalties, but the assistant coach did not respond to the correspondence proposing the show-cause order or otherwise participate in the summary disposition process. Neither party has the opportunity to appeal.
The violations center on conduct that undermined the NCAA Collegiate Model and threatened the health and safety of student-athletes who trusted the assistant coach with their well-being. Near the end of the 2017 football season, the assistant coach identified four football student-athletes who he wanted to be stronger. He then instructed and pressured the student-athletes into using a banned anabolic agent. Three of the student-athletes ultimately purchased and used the substance. The assistant coach failed to follow institutional procedures regarding drug abuse when these student-athletes told him that they purchased and used the substance. Although there were no warning signs for ODU, the assistant coach’s behavior violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct and put student-athlete well-being at risk. ODU agrees that the violations occurred and they are major.
The assistant coach resigned shortly after ODU discovered the violations. He then further violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation and failed to cooperate when he knowingly provided false or misleading information to the enforcement staff regarding his knowledge of and involvement in the student-athletes’ use of the banned substance and refused to participate in a second interview. These are also major violations. Full candor and cooperation are paramount to the infractions process and allow it to properly function. The assistant coach, however, impeded the process.
The Committee concluded that ODU committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1 and 10.2 (2017-18)
ODU and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that, during the 2017-18 academic year, the assistant coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he failed to deport himself in accordance with generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics, when he did not follow institutional procedures dealing with drug abuse as required by NCAA legislation. Specifically, the assistant coach instructed and/or pressured at least four football student-athletes to use an anabolic agent, which was included on the NCAA banned drugs list, and failed to follow institutional procedures when three student-athletes told him they purchased and used the substance.
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a), 10.1-(c) and 19.01.3 (2018-19)
ODU and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that, from December 2018 to the present, the assistant coach failed to cooperate with the enforcement staff when he knowingly furnished false or misleading information and refused to provide information relevant to an investigation of a possible NCAA violation. Specifically, in an interview with the enforcement staff on December 20, 2018, the assistant coach denied any knowledge of or involvement in the student-athletes’ use of a banned drug. Subsequently, the NCAA enforcement staff requested a second, in-person interview with the assistant coach on March 12, 2019, and, to date, the assistant coach has refused.
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized ODU as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure through the release of the public infractions decision.
2. One year of probation from December 6, 2019, to December 5, 2020.
3. During this period of probation, ODU shall:
a. Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive compliance and educational program on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institutional staff members with responsibility for ensuring compliance with NCAA legislation on certification and recruiting;
b. Submit a preliminary report to the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) by January 30, 2020, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program;
c. File with the OCOI a final compliance report indicating the progress made with this program by October 30, 2020. Particular emphasis shall be placed on rules education regarding ethical conduct and knowledge of use of banned drugs;
d. Inform football prospects in writing that ODU is on probation for one year and detail the violations committed. If a prospect takes an official paid visit, the information regarding violations, penalties and terms of probation must be provided in advance of the visit. Otherwise, the information must be provided before a prospect signs a National Letter of Intent; and
e. Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the infractions by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the affected sport program and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletics department’s main webpage “landing page” and in the media guides for football. The institution’s statement must: (i) clearly describe the infractions; (ii) include the length of the probationary period associated with the case; and (iii) give members of the general public a clear indication of what happened in the case to allow the public (particularly prospects and their families) to make informed, knowledgeable decisions. A statement that refers only to the probationary period with nothing more is not sufficient.
4. Following the receipt of the final compliance report and prior to the conclusion of probation, ODU’s president shall provide a letter to the COI affirming that ODU’s current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.
5. Show-cause order: The assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he instructed and pressured four student-athletes to use a banned anabolic agent and failed to follow institutional procedures regarding drug abuse when three of these student-athletes told him that they purchased and used the substance. This conduct threatened the health and safety of the student-athletes and is antithetical to the Collegiate Model. He then failed to cooperate with the enforcement staff when he knowingly furnished false or misleading information and refused to provide information relevant to an investigation of potential violations. Therefore, the assistant coach shall be subject to a ten-year show-cause order from December 6, 2019, to December 5, 2029. Pursuant to Bylaw 184.108.40.206.1 and COI IOP 5- 16-1-1, if the assistant coach seeks employment or affiliation with any athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during the ten-year show-cause period, any employing institution shall be required to contact the OCOI to make arrangements to show cause why restrictions on all athletically related activity should not apply.
As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, ODU shall be subject to the provisions of Bylaw 220.127.116.11 concerning repeat violators for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, December 6, 2019. The COI further advises ODU and the assistant coach that they should take every precaution to ensure that they observe the terms of the penalties. The COI will monitor ODU while it is on probation to ensure compliance with the penalties and terms of probation and may extend the probationary period, among other action, if ODU does not comply or commits additional violations. Likewise, any action by ODU or the assistant coach contrary to the terms of the penalties or any additional violations shall be considered grounds for prescribing more severe penalties and/or may result in additional allegations and violations.
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