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:
- Public reprimand and censure through the release of the public infractions decision.
- Probation: One year of probation from December 18, 2019, through December 17, 2020.
- During the one-year period of probation, Saint Leo shall:
- Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive 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 implementing NCAA recruiting and certification legislation;
- Submit a preliminary report to the OCOI by January 31, 2020, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program and compliance with prescribed penalties;
- File with the OCOI one annual compliance report indicating the progress made with this program by November 1, 2020, during the year of probation. Particular emphasis shall be placed on Saint Leo’s development and implementation of written policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with legislation relating to local sports clubs. These procedures shall address employment at sports clubs and benefits provided to student-athletes consistent with institutional and NCAA rules and regulations, in addition to education and monitoring programs;
- In writing, inform prospects in women’s volleyball that Saint Leo 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
- Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the violations by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the affected sports program and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletic department’s main webpage “landing page” and in the media guides for the affected sport programs. Saint Leo’s statement must: (i) clearly describe the violations, (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.
- A limit of no more than seven scholarships in women’s volleyball for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.
- Financial penalty: The institution shall pay a fine of $4,000.
- Vacation of records. Saint Leo acknowledged ineligible participation by a women’s volleyball student-athlete as the result of the violations in this case. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaws 19.5.2-(g), 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11, Saint Leo shall vacate the wins in which the ineligible student-athlete competed from the time she became ineligible. (Self-imposed.) The individual records of the ineligible student-athlete shall also be vacated during the time she competed while ineligible. However, the individual records and any awards for all eligible student-athletes shall be retained. Further, the institution’s records regarding its women’s volleyball program, as well as the records of the head women’s volleyball coach, shall reflect the vacated records and shall be recorded in all publications in which such records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. Any institutions that may subsequently hire the head coach shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in their career records documented in media guides and other publications cited above. The head coach may not count the vacated wins toward specific honors or victory “milestones” such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories. Any public reference to the vacated contests shall be removed from the athletics department stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies awarded by the NCAA in women’s volleyball shall be returned to the Association. Finally, to ensure that all institutional and student-athlete vacations, statistics and records are accurately reflected in official NCAA publications and archives, the sports information director (or other designee as assigned by the director of athletics) must contact the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office and appropriate conference officials to identify the specific student-athlete and contests impacted by the penalties. In addition, the institution must provide the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office with a written report detailing those discussions. This document will be maintained in the permanent files of the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office. This written report must be delivered to the office no later than 14 days following the release of this decision. The sports information director (or designee) must also inform the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) of this submission to the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office.
- Show-cause order. The head women’s volleyball coach agreed that he engaged in unethical conduct when he knowingly violated NCAA legislation by providing impermissible rental and book payments for a student-athlete. Further, the head coach’s direct involvement in these violations demonstrates that he failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance in his program. Therefore, the COI prescribes a two-year show-cause order pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168. The show-cause period shall run from December 18, 2019, through December 17, 2021. Should the head coach become employed at a member institution during the term the show cause is in effect, within 30 days of his hiring, that employing institution shall contact the OCOI to make arrangements to show-cause why restrictions on his athletically related duties should not apply.
- Following the receipt of the final compliance report and prior to the conclusion of probation, Saint Leo’s president shall provide a letter to the COI affirming that the institution’s current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.
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