The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel”) recently issued its findings and found that Southeast Missouri State University (“SEMO” or “Institution”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. This case involved academic misconduct by a former assistant men’s basketball coach at SEMO. The Panel 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”). The Panel proposed additional penalties to the Institution and the former assistant coach. The Institution agreed to the additional penalties proposed by the Panel and therefore has no opportunity to appeal. The former assistant coach, after not initially participating in the SDR process, contested the length of his proposed show-cause penalty at an expedited hearing. The Committee retained the contested penalty in part. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, the former assistant coach has the opportunity to appeal his penalty.
The Committee concluded that SEMO committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1 (2014-15 through 2016-17), 10.1-(b) (2014-15 through 2015-16), 10.1-(d) (2015-16), 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2015-16 and 2016-17) (Level I)
The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed the former assistant men’s basketball coach (former assistant coach) violated the principles of ethical conduct when he: (1) knowingly arranged for the receipt of fraudulent academic credit for a prospective student-athlete; (2) provided false or misleading information during his interviews; and (3) failed to cooperate with the Institution and NCAA enforcement staff’s investigation.
Between July and October 2015, a men’s basketball prospective student-athlete (the prospect) was enrolled in four online courses at Adams State: (1) ENG 101 Communication Arts I, (2) ENG 102 Communication Arts II, (3) MATH 104 Finite Mathematics, and (4) PHIL 201 Introduction to Philosophy. The former assistant coach knowingly arranged to have a current men’s basketball student-athlete (the enrolled student-athlete) complete three exams and individuals associated with the men’s basketball program, who were located in California and Missouri, complete the remaining coursework on behalf of the prospect. As a result, the prospect received fraudulent academic credit that was later rescinded based on a finding by Adams State of academic misconduct. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1 and 10.1-(b) (2014-15 and 2015-16).
During his October 8, October 9 and November 3, 2015, interviews with the Institution and/or NCAA enforcement staff, the former assistant coach provided false or misleading information when he denied knowledge of and/or involvement in the arrangement for the completion of coursework on behalf of the prospect by individuals associated with the program. The former assistant coach’s statements are in direct contradiction to information reported, as well as metadata associated with the coursework. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1 and 10.1-(d) (2015-16).
Beginning November 10, 2015, and continuing to the present, the former assistant coach failed to cooperate with the Institution and NCAA enforcement staff when he refused to furnish information relevant to an investigation of possible NCAA violations. Specifically, the former assistant coach failed to submit records when requested to do so on multiple occasions and failed to submit to a final interview pursuant to a request made by the enforcement staff. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2015-16 through 2016-17).
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4
Aggravating Factors for the Institution
19.9.3-(b): The institution has a history of Level I, Level II or major violations.
Mitigating Factors for the Institution
19.9.4-(a): Prompt self-detection and self-disclosure of the violation(s);
19.9.4-(b): Prompt acknowledgement and acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties;
19.9.4-(c): Affirmative steps to expedite the final resolution of the matter;
19.9.4-(d): Established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations;
19.9.4-(e): Implementation of a system of compliance methods designed to ensure rules compliance and satisfaction of institutional/coaches’ control standards; and
19.9.4-(f): Exemplary cooperation.
Aggravating Factors for the Assistant Coach
19.9.3-(a): Multiple Level I violations;
19.9.3-(e): Unethical conduct, compromising the integrity of an investigation, failing to cooperate during an investigation or refusing to provide all relevant or requested information;
19.9.3-(f): Violations were premeditated, deliberate or committed after substantial planning;
19.9.3-(i): One or more violations caused significant ineligibility or other substantial harm to a student-athlete or prospective student-athlete;
19.9.3-(j): Conduct or circumstances demonstrating an abuse of a position of trust; and
19.9.3-(m): Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution and bylaws.
Mitigating Factors for the Assistant Coach
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized SEMO as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. A two-year extension of probation from the Institution’s 2016 infractions case. Consequently, the probationary period will conclude on February 11, 2019.
3. The Institution shall pay a $5,000 fine.
4. This case involved the former assistant coach’s intentional violations of NCAA legislation. As a person in a position of authority and trust, the membership holds the former assistant coach to a high standard. When the former assistant coach knowingly arranged for the receipt of fraudulent academic credit for a prospective student-athlete, he did not fulfill that standard. He also abused his position of trust by pressuring the enrolled student-athlete to participate in the academic misconduct. Further, the former assistant coach had a responsibility to provide truthful information and to fully cooperate with the investigation. He committed unethical conduct when he provided false or misleading information during his interviews and failed to fully cooperate with the enforcement staff and institution. Therefore, the former assistant coach will be informed in writing by the NCAA that should he be employed or affiliated with an athletically related position at another NCAA member institution during a six-year period, from March 10, 2017, to March 9, 2023, within 30 days of the former assistant coach’s hiring, that employing institution shall contact the Office of the Committees on Infractions to make arrangements to show cause why restrictions on athletically related activity should not apply.