The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that Southwest Baptist University (“SWB”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The violations in this case involved 472 impermissible text messages sent by the head men’s basketball coach to 29 prospective student-athletes and two parents of prospects. After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations of NCAA legislation.
The Committee found that SWB committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Impermissible electronic transmissions in violation of NCAA Bylaw 13.4.5.
Between March and June 2011, the head coach sent 408 impermissible text messages to 29 prospects and 64 impermissible text messages to parents of 2 prospects.
The violation was discovered when a parent of a prospect contacted the compliance department to discuss another matter and mentioned that the head coach text messaged the parent at inopportune times. The compliance department recognized the problem and immediately launched an investigation into the head coach’s phone records. A comparison of the records compiled revealed that impermissible texts were being sent by the head coach. When questioned about the text messages, the head coach responded that communicating via text was “more economical” and prospects were “more likely to respond.” The head coach acknowledged that he knew the rule and gained a recruiting advantage by sending text messages to prospects.
2. Failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance in violation of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11
From March 2011 through June 2011, the head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance n the men’s basketball program when knowingly committing violations of NCAA recruiting legislation.
The head coach committed the text messaging violations even after he had been admonished and educated regarding text messaging in February 2011, when he sent a single text to a prospect that resulted in the institution reporting a secondary infraction to the NCAA enforcement staff. By his actions, the head coach clearly demonstrated that compliance with NCAA rules was not of foremost importance as he administered the men’s basketball program at the institution.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized SWB as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. One year of probation from May 23, 2012 through May 22, 2013.
3. Removal of text messaging privileges from the head coach’s cell phone for the 2011-12 academic year.
4. All men’s basketball coaching staff members were prohibited from any on-campus recruiting activities for a period of 12 weeks, beginning August 1, 2011.
5. All men’s basketball coaching staff members were prohibited from engaging in any off-campus recruiting activities for 6 months, beginning August 1, 2011.
6. Suspension of all official visits for the 2011-12 academic year.
7. The men’s basketball program shall only be allowed to award a total of eight financial aid grants for the 2012-13 academic year.
8. Within 72 hours of the release of the infractions report, all members of the men’s basketball coaching staff shall provide to the compliance office, in writing, a listing of all phones they use for recruiting purposes.
9. The head coach shall attend ethics training within 60 days of the release of the infractions report.
10. The head coach shall attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.
11. The head coach shall be suspended from all coaching duties for the first two conference games of the 2012-13 season.