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 centered on the actions of a former head women’s volleyball coach (“head coach”) at Saint Leo University (“SLU”) who engaged in unethical conduct when he knowingly made impermissible rental and book payments both to and on behalf of a women’s volleyball student-athlete. He also violated head coach responsibility legislation through his direct involvement in the violations. The COI considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process, in which all parties agreed to the primary facts and violations as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). COI proposed additional penalties for SLU and a show-cause order for the head coach. SLU accepted the penalties, but the head coach did not respond to the correspondence proposing the show-cause order. Neither party may appeal.
This case is the result of a series of purposeful actions by the head coach that are inconsistent with bylaws and expectations of head coaches. During the 2017-18 academic year, the head coach provided significant impermissible benefits for the student-athlete when he made housing rental payments on her behalf under the guise of employment with the head coach’s club volleyball team. Further, during the 2018 spring semester, the head coach provided cash to the student-athlete for books. The value of the impermissible payments totaled approximately $3,200. The head coach made these payments because he had offered the student-athlete a full scholarship. Ultimately, however, the student-athlete’s grant-in-aid was approximately $8,000 less than a full grant, resulting in the head coach providing the impermissible payments in an effort to make up the shortfall.
The head coach’s actions violated extra benefits legislation and led to ineligible competition by the student-athlete. Further, the head coach chose to make these payments knowing that they were impermissible. His knowing provision of impermissible benefits violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation. Finally, due to the head coach’s direct involvement in the violations, he failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance in the women’s volleyball program and, in doing so, violated head coach responsibility legislation. His actions were contrary to the membership’s expectations of head coaches. The parties agreed that all violations in this case are major.
COI accepted the parties’ factual agreements and concluded that major violations occurred. Utilizing NCAA bylaws authorizing penalties, COI adopted and prescribed the following principal penalties: public reprimand and censure, one year of probation, a $4,000 fine, a vacation of records, scholarship limits in women’s volleyball and a two-year show-cause order for the head women’s volleyball coach.
The Committee concluded that SLU committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 14.12.1, 16.8.1 and 126.96.36.199 (2017-18)
The parties agreed that during the 2017-18 academic year, the head women’s volleyball coach provided impermissible benefits in the form of rental payments and cash to a student-athlete. The head coach provided the impermissible benefits to the student-athlete in part as a result of the student-athlete’s employment as an assistant coach with the head coach’s club team during the 2018 spring semester. The approximate value of the impermissible benefits was $3,200. As a result of the impermissible benefits, the student-athlete competed in 39 contests and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible. Specifically, the head coach arranged and paid $300 per month for the student-athlete to reside in the residence of a former men’s swimming student-athlete and a former women’s volleyball student-athlete from August 2017 through April 2018. Additionally, the head coach gave the student-athlete at least $300 in cash to purchase her textbooks for the 2018 spring semester.
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(b) and 188.8.131.52 (2017-18)
The parties agreed that during the 2017-18 academic year, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct and head coach responsibility legislation, as he is presumed responsible for violations outlined above and did not rebut that presumption. Specifically, the head coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance within the women’s volleyball program because he knowingly provided impermissible benefits in the form of rental payments and cash to a women’s volleyball student-athlete.
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized SLU as follows: