The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that Syracuse University (“Syracuse”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. Over the course of a decade, the Syracuse set in motion or otherwise permitted Syracuse’s staff and persons associated with its athletics programs to engage in conduct contrary to established NCAA bylaws and Syracuse’s rules and procedures. The violations in this case centered on the Syracuse’s men’s basketball program, its student-athletes and staff. To a lesser extent, violations involved the Syracuse’s football program and football student-athletes.
Syracuse discovered and self-reported violations dating back to 2001. These violations included academic fraud, instances of extra benefits, the Syracuse’s failure to follow its written drug policy, impermissible activities surrounding the conduct of a representative of the Syracuse’s athletics interest and student-athletes’ involvement in promotional activities and outside competition. In total, the self-reported and agreed-upon violations made up 10 of the 14 allegations in this case. The other four violations included academic extra benefits, the Syracuse’s failure to follow its written drug testing policy, the head basketball coach’s failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff and Syracuse’s lack of control over its athletics program. The case also involved a former staff member’s failure to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff’s investigation. The institution acknowledged and the panel concluded that violations occurred. Unfortunately, the life of this case has been lengthy. The institution’s and the enforcement staff’s investigation spanned four years, and the need for the institution to complete academic processes on campus, extensions requests and legislative interpretation processes further delayed final resolution of the case. A key indicator of an effective process is timely resolution, which did not occur in this case. The institution failed to control and monitor athletics and academic initiatives it set in motion – ultimately resulting in extensive academic misconduct, including four instances of academic fraud and three instances in which student-athletes received academic extra benefits. The institution also encouraged student-athletes’ and staffs’ relationships with a known representative of the institution’s athletics interest without ensuring that those relationships continued to comply with NCAA requirements. The institution did not have adequate controls in place and functioning, with the result being a series of violations spanning in excess of 10 years.
Because the violations in this case straddled the implementation of the new penalty structure, the institution was entitled to the more lenient penalty structure. The Committee conducted a penalty analysis under both the current and former penalty structures and determined former NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2 provided the more lenient penalties. In accordance with former NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2, the panel prescribed a five-year probationary period; a financial penalty; three scholarship reductions per year over a four-year period in men’s basketball; the panel accepted the institution’s post-hearing self-imposed one-year postseason ban in men’s basketball; a vacation of victories in which ineligible student-athletes participated; a nine-game suspension from conference games for the head basketball coach; two-years of recruiting restrictions in men’s basketball and other appropriate and standard administrative penalties as detailed in the penalty section of this decision.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52-(d) (2002-03 through 2004-05); 184.108.40.206-(a) (2003-04 and 2004-05); 220.127.116.11-(a); 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124-(d) (2005-06)
Over the course of approximately a 14-month period, the representative provided impermissible payments to five of the institution’s student-athletes totaling $8,335. These benefits violated NCAA Bylaw 16.
NCAA Bylaw 16 defines extra benefits. Generally, an extra benefit is any benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. The representative developed personal relationships with student-athletes. He developed these relationships through his unique access to the men’s basketball program and through his interactions with student-athletes who participated in mentoring and volunteer activities at the YMCA. The representative identified three football and two men’s basketball student-athletes that he paid out of the AAU-DCCT account for their involvement in YMCA events. These events included mentoring or working at clinics, camps or tournaments or YMCA projects. The student-athletes work with the YMCA, however, was considered volunteer work.
Although the representative believed that the student-athletes expected to and should have been paid for their activities, payment for those activities violated NCAA Bylaw 16. Specifically, when the representative paid the five student-athletes for volunteer work, he provided them with a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation – an extra benefit.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because the extra benefits were substantial and extensive.
Between the 2002-03 and the 2006-07 academic years, the representative provided or arranged for automobile transportation for three student-athletes and provided meals to one of those student-athletes. The arrangement and provision of benefits violated NCAA Bylaw 16.
NCAA Bylaw 16 defines extra benefits. Generally, an extra benefit is any benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. NCAA Bylaw 16 expressly identifies transportation as a prohibited benefit. Further, NCAA Bylaw 16 permits student-athletes to receive occasional meals from representatives of the institution’s athletics interest provided the meal occurs at the representative of the institution’s athletics interests’ home.
The representative provided or arranged for his acquaintance to provide automobile transportation for three student-athletes. When the representative either provided or arranged for automobile transportation for the student-athletes, he provided them with a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation – an extra benefit. In fact, he provided or arranged for a benefit expressly prohibited by NCAA legislation. Additionally, when the representative provided meals to one of the student-athletes away from the representatives home, he provided the student-athlete with an extra benefit and violated occasional meal NCAA legislation. NCAA legislation did not authorize these benefits.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level II violations of NCAA bylaws because it involved collective Level III violations.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 10.1 and 10.1-(b) (2005-06 and 2006-07) and 10.01.1, 10.1 and 10.1-(b) (2011-12)
During the 2005-06 and 2006-07 years, the part-time tutor and three football student-athletes committed unethical conduct and engaged in academic fraud when they provided false and/or misleading information on the student-athletes’ involvement in an internship to a professor who subsequently awarded the student-athletes with academic credit. Additionally, in January 2012, the director of basketball operations and the basketball facility receptionist committed unethical conduct when they arranged for student-athlete 7 to receive fraudulent academic credit. The institution self-reported all four instances as violations of its academic integrity policy.
The part-time tutor, who also was CEO of the YMCA in Rome, New York, and three football student-athletes submitted false and/or misleading information related to the student-athletes’ completion of internship requirements to the student-athletes’ professor, which the professor relied upon in awarding the student-athletes academic credit. The part-time tutor and student-athletes’ conduct violated NCAA Bylaw 10.
NCAA Bylaw 10.1 defines unethical conduct. Among other things, the Bylaw defines the knowing involvement in arranging for fraudulent academic credit for a student-athlete as unethical conduct. The institution offered a course in its Family and Child Studies Department that centered on successful completion of an internship. Requirements of the internship included: (1) service to a nonprofit organization approved by the professor; (2) 180 hours at the internship site; (3) a final project at the intern site; (4) a supervisor’s evaluation; and (5) classroom activities and other submissions. During the 2005-06 academic year, two football student-athletes enrolled in the course and carried out their internship at the YMCA. During the 2006-07 academic year, another football student-athlete enrolled in the course carried out his internship at the YMCA.
Because of his long-standing relationship with student-athletes as a part-time tutor, the student-athletes felt comfortable approaching the part-time tutor/YMCA CEO regarding their required internships. Paperwork identified the part-time tutor as the “administrator” of the internship and, in his role as CEO of the YMCA, he received an internship manual and executed a letter of understanding identifying himself as the point of contact for the internship.
With respect to the 2005-06 academic year, student-athletes 2 and 3 participated in the internship and the part-time tutor and the student-athletes submitted false and/or misleading information regarding the student-athletes’ completion of requirements. Specifically, the part-time tutor certified that the student-athletes completed their 180-hour service requirement and supplied their professor with evaluations on the type of activities the student-athletes performed. Unfortunately, the two student-athletes’ representations differed from the part-time tutor’s evaluations.
The part-time tutor reported that he assigned the representative as the direct supervisor of the two student-athletes. However, when the representative ceased being employed by the YMCA, the part-time tutor “did not want to hurt the student-athletes’ chances” of receiving full credit in the course and supplied the professor with information that that did not accurately reflect the student-athletes’ work in the internship. Similarly, the student-athletes misrepresented their activities in their final paper. The student-athletes claimed to have planned, organized and promoted a charity basketball game. However, only one charitable basketball occurred during their internship and they did not organize or promote that game. The professor used the part-time tutor’s certification and evaluation as well as the student-athletes’ final paper in formulating the student-athletes’ grades.
Student-athlete 6 participated in the internship during the 2006-07 academic year, and the part-time tutor and student-athlete provided false and/or misleading information relating to the internship. Student-athlete 6 submitted and, according to the professor, the part-time tutor confirmed the student-athlete’s hours. Some of those hours, however, indicated that the student-athlete was working at the YMCA on days that student-athlete 6 had football commitments. Additionally, the institution determined that student-athlete 6 did not complete the final project he described in his final paper. The professor used the part-time tutor’s certification and student-athlete 6’s final paper in formulating the student-athlete’s grade.
The part-time tutor held ultimate responsibility for the internships. While he claimed that he was not the direct supervisor of the student-athletes during their internships, he signed, confirmed and/or evaluated the student-athletes’ activities. When the part-time tutor provided certifications and/or evaluations based on limited personal knowledge he committed unethical conduct. He knew that the student-athletes would receive academic credit for their involvement in YMCA activities and he had a duty to ensure that his certifications and/or evaluations were accurate. Because he attested to the student-athletes’ hours and activities without verifying their accuracy, he was knowingly involved in arranging for fraudulent academic credit and violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1.
Similarly, the student-athletes committed unethical conduct. During the 2005-06 internship, when student-athletes 2 and 3 misrepresented their involvement in a charity basketball game and received academic credit based on that representation, they committed academic fraud and violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(b). Likewise, when student-athlete 6 in the following year misrepresented his final project and received academic credit, he committed academic fraud and violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(b).
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because the academic fraud undermined and threatened the NCAA Collegiate Model and provided a substantial advantage.
Director of Basketball Operations
The institution self-reported to the enforcement staff that after student-athlete 7 became academically ineligible, the director of basketball operations and the basketball facility receptionist engaged in unethical conduct when they completed academic coursework on behalf of student-athlete 7. Their conduct was aimed at restoring his eligibility and returning him to competition. The academic fraud, in part, occurred because the institution lacked oversight, control and monitoring over the process aimed at restoring student-athlete 7’s eligibility. The director of basketball operations’ and basketball facility receptionists’ conduct violated NCAA Bylaw 10.
NCAA Bylaw 10.01.1 requires that all individuals employed or associated with a member institution act with honesty and sportsmanship. NCAA Bylaw 10.1 defines unethical conduct. Among other examples, NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(b) defines unethical conduct as the knowing involvement in arranging for fraudulent academic credit.
At the time the institution declared him ineligible, student-athlete 7 was one of the best defensive players in the country on an undefeated team. After student-athlete 7 fell short of a progress-toward-degree requirement, the institution submitted a waiver on his behalf. The waiver as well as the institution’s subsequent appeal were denied. The waiver included a personal statement that identified personal and medical difficulties that student-athlete 7 had experienced. Thereafter, senior members from both the institution’s academics and athletics staffs met to discuss the institutional options available to student-athlete 7 to restore his eligibility. As the institution acknowledged at the hearing, a meeting like this, aimed at an individual student-athlete’s eligibility options, had previously never occurred at the institution. After exploring multiple options, the institution determined the best course of action would be for student-athlete 7 to seek a grade change. Meeting attendees left it to the director of basketball operations to inform student-athlete 7. Attendees made it clear, however, that student-athlete 7 had to initiate the request.
Student-athlete 7 found a professor willing to give him the opportunity to submit additional work for a course he completed two semesters prior. The professor assigned a four to five-page paper, citing scholarly journals. And the topic covered specific medical and personal problems – problems student-athlete 7 previously experienced. Within a day, the professor received the assignment. The first paper submitted did not include citations and the professor informed student-athlete 7 that the paper was “inadequate.” Later that afternoon, the professor received a revised paper that included citations from student-athlete 7’s institutional email account. The professor reviewed the assignment and determined it was sufficient to raise student-athlete 7’s grade. Unfortunately, the director of basketball operations and the basketball facility receptionist, not student-athlete 7, completed and submitted the assignment.
The institution reported that the paper submitted for additional academic credit was a revised version of student-athlete 7’s personal statement prepared for his waiver and that the director of basketball operations and basketball facility receptionist provided text, research and citations to the final paper. The paper’s creation, revision and submission occurred between January 26 and January 27, 2012. The director of basketball operations had student-athlete 7’s personal statement saved on his computer. Over the course of approximately one day, the personal statement underwent seven revisions authored by the director of basketball operations or the basketball facility receptionist. The director of basketball operations and the basketball facility receptionist exchanged seven emails. Six of those emails contained newly revised versions of the paper as an attachment. The two also exchanged three phone calls. The grade awarded for the paper restored student-athlete 7’s eligibility and the final paper was saved on the director of basketball operations’ computer. The institution determined that student-athlete 7 received impermissible assistance in completing the assignment that violated the institution’s academic integrity policies and procedures. The institution issued student-athlete 7 a failing grade.
The director of basketball operations and the basketball facility receptionist failed to act ethically and conduct themselves with the honesty required of individuals employed by a member institution. Worse yet, they engaged in the conduct during a time when the institution was under investigation for other potential NCAA violations and after student-athlete 7 had just been denied an eligibility waiver. After the AMA staff denied the eligibility waiver, the director of basketball operations and basketball facility receptionist undertook an impermissible and unethical avenue to restore student-athlete 7’s eligibility and return him to competition. They abused a procedure that if carried out appropriately by student-athlete 7 would have restored his eligibility within institutional and NCAA requirements. However, it appears because time was of the essence, they did not allow student-athlete 7 to complete and submit the work on his own. Because they arranged for student-athlete 7 to receive fraudulent academic credit, they violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(b).
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted a Level I violation of NCAA bylaws because academic fraud undermined and threatened the NCAA Collegiate Model and provided a substantial advantage.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199 (2010-11 and 2011-12)
The support services mentor, who later became a basketball facility receptionist, and the support services tutor impermissibly made revisions, created or wrote assignments for three student-athletes. Specifically, the support services mentor, provided student-athletes 8 and 9 with impermissible academic assistance in fall 2010 and summer 2011, respectively. As a basketball facilities receptionist, she continued to provide student-athlete 9 with impermissible academic assistance in fall 2011. Similarly, the support services tutor impermissibly wrote a portion of student-athlete 10’s midterm exam. The provision of coursework violated NCAA Bylaw 16.
Generally, NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 does not permit student-athletes to receive extra benefits. Additionally, the Legislative Council issued an official interpretation stating that institutions have the authority to determine whether academic misconduct occurred. The interpretation noted, however, that extra benefit legislation continued to apply regardless of whether an academic misconduct violation occurred. Answering the panel’s NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206 interpretation request, the AMA staff, Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee (LRIC) and Legislative Council confirmed that extra benefit violations may still occur if the institution determines, pursuant to its own internal policies and procedures that the conduct at issue does not result in a violation of institutional academic integrity policy. Thus, after the institution reviewed and determined that academic integrity violations had not occurred, the enforcement staff appropriately alleged and the panel concluded that academic extra benefit violations occurred.
Contrary to policies, procedures and trainings, institutional staff members provided student-athletes with assistance contrary to the established appropriate level of student-athlete support services’ assistance. Support services tutors and mentors received specific education and training on rules relating to the institution’s academic integrity policy and extra benefits. In at least some instances, however, members of the student-athlete support services ignored or failed to follow policies, procedures and training.
Specifically, the support services mentor, and later basketball facility receptionist, provided impermissible assistance to two men’s basketball student-athletes. First, during the fall 2010 semester the support services mentor made impermissible revisions to and created coursework for student-athlete 8 in two of his courses. With respect to one course, she provided student-athlete 8 with a paper that differed from the one saved on student-athlete 8’s network use profile. The paper she provided student-athlete 8 included two additional pages, scholarly citations and a bibliography. With respect to the second course, the instructor assigned the student-athlete a class presentation. The support services mentor provided the director of basketball operations with a substantially revised presentation and a script that she created for student-athlete 8’s oral presentation. When the support services mentor emailed the coursework to the director of basketball operations, she included the direction, “print out for [student-athlete 8] to take.”
Second, during the spring, summer and fall of 2011 in her role as a support services mentor and then as a basketball facility receptionist, she provided student-athlete 9 with impermissible assistance on coursework in three of his courses. With respect to the first course, the support services mentor made revisions or created student-athlete 9’s assigned midterm, two essays and final exam. All of the documents were created on the same type of computer that the support services’ mentor used at home. Three assignments (the midterm, one essay and the final exam) were saved to the student-athlete’s network user profile during a tutoring session, but only one assignment underwent editing during the session. The other essay went through multiple revisions and the final version of the paper was sent using student-athlete 9’s personal email address from the support services mentor’s home. The support services mentor also created a completely revised version of the first essay. Like the other essay, the director of basketball operations received the essay in an email from student-athlete 9’s personal email account and the email originated from the support services mentor’s home. Student-athlete 9, however, never turned in the document because he already received sufficient credit in the course based on the earlier submissions.
With respect to the second course, the support services mentor created or revised two assigned papers. Specifically, versions of the two assigned papers indicated that the support services mentor was the last to save the documents; the documents originated on the type of computer that the support services mentor used at home; and the director of basketball operations received the documents from student-athlete 9’s personal email account. Finally, the email transmitting the documents originated from the support services mentor’s home.
With respect to the third course, despite ceasing to be employed by student-athlete support services, the now basketball facility receptionist created or revised a paper for one of student-athlete 9’s fall 2011 courses. Specifically, the basketball facility receptionist continued to monitor and involve herself in the academic affairs of student-athlete 9. Among other involvement, a course paper was housed on the type of computer the basketball facility receptionist used at home and the paper was edited by an athletics username that the basketball facility receptionist could access. Additionally, the director of basketball operations received emails from student-athlete 9’s personal email account that originated from the basketball facility receptionist’s home. One of those emails included a written statement on behalf of student-athlete 9 to the dean of student-affairs. It also included the direction, “input.”
Finally, the institution self-reported that during the spring 2012 semester the support services tutor wrote a portion of student-athlete 10’s midterm exam. The panel believes that based on the similarity of other student-athlete support services activity that occurred around the same time, the unprocessed self-report is appropriately included in the NOA. Its inclusion, along with the other activities described above, paint a picture of the student-athlete support services relationship and culture with the men’s basketball program. A culture that at times operated contrary to the policies, procedures, trainings and expectations of the student-athlete support services program.
The support services mentor, and later basketball facility receptionist, and the support services tutor created, revised or wrote academic coursework for the three men’s basketball student-athletes. In doing so, they provided student-athletes with impermissible assistance and services. That assistance and service was not part of, or the intent of, the student-athlete support services program. It exceeded the type of support provided by the institution and generally available through the student-athlete support services program. Therefore, when the support services mentor (basketball facility receptionist) and support services tutor created, revised or wrote academic coursework they provided student-athletes with extra benefits and violated NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because they seriously undermined and threatened the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model and provided a substantial advantage and were not isolated nor inadvertent, but rather part of ongoing violations.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 10.2 (2001-02 through 2008-09), 14.01.3 (2001-02 through 2008-09) 18.104.22.168-(e) (2001-02 through 2004-05), 22.214.171.124-(e) (2005-06), 126.96.36.199-(d) (2006-07) and 188.8.131.52-(e) (2007-08 and 2008-09)
The institution acknowledged that it failed to follow written institutional procedures for numerous men’s basketball student-athletes who tested positive for banned substances. NCAA Bylaw 10.2 requires institutions to follow their institutional procedures dealing with drug abuse when athletics staff members have knowledge of student-athletes use of substances on the banned list. The bylaw further states that failure to follow institutional procedures shall subject the institution to penalties.
The institution developed a written drug testing policy in May 2000. In short, after a positive drug test a student-athlete became ineligible until specific requirements were met. After a first positive drug test, the policy declared the student-athlete ineligible until the student-athlete’s head coach notified the student-athlete’s parents. After a second, the policy declared the student-athlete ineligible until a counselor declared that the student-athlete was no longer using banned substances. Finally, after a third positive drug test, the policy called for the student-athlete’s eligibility to be terminated and for the institution to withdrawal all athletically related financial aid at the conclusion of the semester. The institution did not follow these written procedures. The head basketball coach admitted that he did not call student-athletes’ parents, but rather brought the student-athletes in to talk to him. The director of athletics accepted this practice.
Similarly, most of the student-athletes tested positive on more than one occasion and were not removed from the squad until a counselor declared that the student-athletes were no longer using ban substances. Student-athletes who tested positive a second time saw counselors within a day and were released back to competition.
When the head basketball coach did not, and was not required to, call student-athletes’ parents the head basketball coach and institution did not follow its written institutional policy. Likewise, when counselors released student-athletes back to competition quickly without ensuring that student-athletes no longer used banned substances, the institution did not follow its written institutional policy. The director of athletics claimed that the institution followed an “unwritten policy” because the written policy was confusing. The suggestion that an “unwritten policy” should supersede a written policy was considered incredible by the panel and contrary to virtually all sense of reason, as the reasons policies are in writing is to ensure that they are clear and followed. Regardless, the written policy remained in effect and when the institution did not follow its written policy, it violated NCAA Bylaw 10.2.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because they seriously undermined the principle of student-athlete well-being and threatened the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 13.9.1 (2002-03 through 2004-05) and 13.8.1 (2005-06 and 2006-07)
Between January 2003 and January 2007, members of the men’s basketball staff provided the representative with complimentary admissions that exceeded the NCAA bylaw limitation. On at least one occasion, a men’s basketball staff member provided the representative with complimentary admissions to a postseason competition. The provision violated NCAA Bylaw 13.
During the time of the conduct, NCAA Bylaw 13.8.1 and later NCAA Bylaw 13.9.1 outlined permissible entertainment for high school, college-preparatory, two-year college coaches and individuals associated with a prospective student-athlete. The bylaw permits these coaches or an individual responsible for teaching or directing an activity in which a prospective student-athlete is involved to receive two complimentary admissions to home athletics contests. The bylaw also prohibits complimentary admissions to postseason competitions.
From the time he was hired in 1996 to coordinate youth sports programming for the YMCA, the representative became an individual responsible for teaching or directing an activity in which a prospective student-athlete is involved. Similarly, the representative had at one time been involved in an AAU program. The head basketball coach, at one time, knew about this involvement because it prompted the head basketball coach to inquire about the representative’s involvement with AAU programs after the head basketball coach saw the representatives name on a complimentary admissions list. The head basketball coach received assurances that the representative was not an AAU coach. At least some of the basketball staff, however, knew of the representative’s involvement with the YMCA, youth sports and the head basketball coach’s summer basketball camp. They never inquired as to whether that involvement and status limited the quantity of complimentary admissions the representative could receive or whether it limited his ability to receive complimentary admissions to postseason competitions. On numerous occasions, members of the men’s basketball staff provided the representative with more than two complimentary admissions and on at least one occasion provided him complimentary admission to a Big East Conference tournament game.
When members of the men’s basketball coaching staff provided the representative with more than two complimentary admissions, they exceeded the NCAA limit and violated NCAA Bylaw 13. Similarly, the men’s basketball staff violated NCAA Bylaw 13 when a staff member provided the representative complimentary admission to a conference tournament game.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constitute Level II violations of NCAA bylaws because of the length of time over which they occurred and because the violations were not inadvertent, isolated or limited.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 11.2.2 and 184.108.40.206 (2003-04 through 2005-06)
The representative’s involvement, payments and provision of benefits did not stop with student-athletes; it also included athletics staff. Athletics staff received outside income and benefits and failed to report what they received to the institution’s chancellor. Another staff member received impermissible supplemental pay. The staff members failure to report outside income, benefits and supplemental pay violated NCAA Bylaw 11. NCAA Bylaw 11.2.2 requires athletics department staff members to report all athletically related income and benefits from outside sources to the institution’s chief executive officer. Further, NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 prohibits outside sources from paying or supplementing an athletics department staff member’s salary. Three athletics staff members failed to report outside income or benefits. A fourth athletics staff member received impermissible supplemental pay. The representative provided each staff member with the outside income, benefit or supplemental pay.
The representative paid a former assistant athletic trainer and graduate assistant athletic trainer for working basketball clinics. Like with the student-athletes, the representative paid the athletic trainers with the AAU-DCCT account. Similarly, the representative provided a complimentary YMCA family membership to an assistant men’s basketball coach in exchange for appearances at basketball clinics. The assistant men’s basketball coach received the complimentary family membership for approximately 18 months. Despite the former athletic trainer and the assistant men’s basketball coach acknowledging that they knew the rule regarding outside income and benefits, they did not report the income or benefits. Also using the AAU-DCCT account, the representative paid one month’s rent for a men’s basketball administrative assistant.
The failure to report outside income or benefits and the receipt of supplemental pay violated NCAA legislation. Specifically, when the two athletics trainers and the assistant men’s basketball coach failed to report their receipt of outside income and the complimentary family gym membership, they violated NCAA Bylaw 11.2.2. Likewise, when the representative paid the basketball assistant’s rent, he provided the basketball assistant with supplemental income, in violation of NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level II violations of NCAA bylaws because they are collective Level III violations.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 22.214.171.124 (2003-04 through 2006-07); 126.96.36.199-(a) (2003-04 through 2005-06); 188.8.131.52-(i) (2004-05 through 2005-06); 184.108.40.206-(e) (2005-06); 220.127.116.11-(i); 18.104.22.168 (2005-06) and 22.214.171.124-(a) (2005-06)
From the 2003-04 through the 2006-07 academic years the institution permitted student-athletes to participate in promotional activities without properly approving the activities. Generally, NCAA Bylaw 12.5 limits the type of organization that can use student-athletes in promotional activities to member institutions and charitable, educational or nonprofit organizations.
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 further outlines specific requirements that must be met relating to student-athletes’ involvement in promotional activities. Among other things, student-athletes must receive written approval from the institution’s director of athletics (or designee); all monies derived from the activity must go to the institution, conference or approved organization; and the student-athlete and a representative from the approved organization must sign a release ensuring that the student-athletes’ participation will meet bylaw requirements. Additionally, NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 states that it is impermissible for student-athletes to receive payment or promote commercial enterprises.
Over the course of four academic years the institution did not properly ensure that its student-athletes’ participation in promotional activities. Specifically, on approximately 12 occasions student-athletes participated in a promotional activity without meeting the requirements of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206. Some student-athletes participated without the proper forms being submitted and without the director of athletics approval. Similarly, other student-athletes participated without executing a release. Finally, one student-athlete promoted an upcoming basketball tournament for the representative. The representative did not submit a request for the student-athlete’s promotion and received the money raised. The basketball tournament was a commercial enterprise.
The institution did not ensure that its student-athletes met the requirements of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 when they participated in promotional activities. And when student-athletes participated in these events without obtaining the director of athletics written approval or without signing a release their participation violated NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168. Similarly, when the student-athlete promoted the representative’s basketball tournament, a commercial enterprise, the student-athletes involvement violated NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124.
The panel concluded that the facts as found constituted Level II violations of NCAA bylaws because they are collective Level III violations.
Violations of NCAA Bylaw 14.7.2 (2004-05)
In 2005, a women’s basketball student-athlete impermissibly participated in a YMCA charity basketball game outside of intercollegiate competition. NCAA Bylaw 14.7.2 prohibits basketball student-athletes from participating in organized basketball outside of the permissible playing season. On March 26, 2005, a women’s basketball student-athlete participated in a charity basketball game organized by the YMCA. The YMCA publicized the game in advance with predetermined rosters, kept an official score and charged admission for attendance. By definition, the game was an organized basketball competition and the student-athlete’s participation in the game violated NCAA Bylaw 14.7.2.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted a Level III violation of NCAA bylaws because the violation was isolated and limited.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52-(d) (2003-04 and 2004-05)
On five occasions in 2004 and 2005, two institutional employees provided automobile transportation to two student-athletes that the institution determined exceeded “local” transportation. Generally, NCAA Bylaw 16 prohibits student-athletes from receiving extra benefits.
NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206-(d) prohibits institutional employees from providing student-athletes with transportation outside of, on an occasional basis, reasonable local transportation. The institution determined that the transportation provided by the institutional employees did not meet the definition of “local” transportation. On one occasion, an assistant men’s basketball coach drove a men’s basketball student-athlete 45 miles. Additionally, on four occasions, a member of the institution’s football academic support staff provided transportation to a football student-athlete totaling 128 miles. When the institutional employees provided non-local transportation to the two student-athletes, they provided the student-athletes with extra benefits that were specifically prohibited by NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11-(d).
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level III violations of NCAA bylaws because the violations were isolated and limited.
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2013-14)
For approximately seven months, the academic coordinator failed to cooperate. In doing so, she failed to uphold her membership obligation to cooperate with the enforcement staff under NCAA Bylaw 10.1.
NCAA Bylaw 10.1 requires all individuals employed at a member institution to furnish information relevant to an investigation of potential violations when requested to do so by the enforcement staff. Failure to do so is deemed unethical conduct. Similarly, NCAA Bylaw 19.2.3 places an affirmative obligation on all representatives of member institutions to fully cooperate and assist in the NCAA’s enforcement program.
During its investigation, the enforcement staff identified the academic coordinator as an individual who potentially had knowledge of student-athlete support provided to the men’s basketball student-athletes. At this time, she no longer worked at the institution. Rather she worked at a different member institution and sought advice from institutional representatives unfamiliar with NCAA process. Based on that advice and her personal discomfort, she repeatedly declined the enforcement staff’s requests to submit to an interview. Later, however, she had a change of heart. Within a month of the hearing and based on different advice from institutional personnel, she indicated her willingness to participate. From that point on, she fully cooperated. She submitted to an interview and, as it related to her failure to cooperate allegation, participated in the hearing.
Full cooperation is essential to the infractions process. It is only by full and complete cooperation that the infractions process works. Because the academic coordinator did not cooperate with the enforcement staff’s repeated requests she failed to fulfill her membership obligation and violated NCAA bylaws. Further, her conduct is contrary to the principles of ethical conduct. The academic coordinator did eventually cooperate. Although untimely, her eventual cooperation reduces what would otherwise have been considered a Level I violation. The panel noted that NCAA Bylaw 19.1.1 – Severe Breach of conduct lists failure to cooperate as an example for a Level I violation. Level I violations seriously undermine and threaten the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model. The cooperative principle is the foundation of the infractions process.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted a Level II violation of NCAA bylaws because the academic coordinator eventually cooperated.
Violations of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 (2001-02 through 2011-12) and NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 (2005-06 through 2011-12)
From the 2001-02 through 2011-12 academic years the head basketball coach failed in his head basketball coach responsibilities to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and monitor the activities of the staff that reported directly and indirectly to him with respect to student-athlete academics and his staff and student-athlete’s interactions with a representative of the institution’s athletics interest. His actions were inconsistent with NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124.
NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 requires member institutions to monitor its programs to assure compliance and identify and report instances of noncompliance. Previously, the committee has expressly stated that NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 also applies to individual head coaches and places an affirmative responsibility on head coaches to monitor their respective programs.36 Specifically, the committee previously indicated that head coaches have a special obligation to monitor the compliance among their team, coaches, staff and student-athletes. See University of Kentucky, Case No. M174 (2002) (concluding that the head football coach “mistakenly relied on the [staff members] integrity to perform those duties properly and in accordance with NCAA rules and regulations”). More recently in 2010, the committee affirmed the expectation and responsibility of head coaches to monitor their programs. See University of Michigan, Case No. M324 (2010) (indicating, “monitoring rules compliance in his/her athletics programs is first and foremost the responsibility of the program’s head coach”). That expectation remains today.
On April 28, 2005, the NCAA membership adopted and placed specific responsibilities on head coaches outside of NCAA Bylaw 2.8.1. Specifically, from adoption through the time period of the conduct in this case, NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 placed a responsibility on head coaches to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the coach’s program and monitor the activities of all staff and administrators who reported directly and indirectly to the coach.
In recent years, the committee has required coaches to affirmatively promote an atmosphere of compliance, monitor the activities within their programs and held coaches accountable for the activities of their staffs. See University of Indiana, Bloomington, Case No. M285 (2008) (concluding that NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 places a specific and independent monitoring obligation on head coaches); University of Connecticut, Case No. M328 (2011) (concluding that NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206 requires coaches to recognize potential problems, address them and report them to athletics administration); and University of Miami, Case No. M362 (2013) (concluding that NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 holds head coaches responsible for conduct of staff and requires coaches to seek information related to potential violations). The panel recognizes that each case is unique; however, the overarching principles and expectations remain for all head coaches.
Within that responsibility rested the presumption that head coaches are responsible for the conduct of all assistant coaches and administrators. That presumption is rebuttable. Here, the head basketball coach failed to rebut the presumption. The head basketball coach identified general rules compliance initiatives such as conversations with the director of basketball operations, assigning staff members as compliance liaisons – one of whom was the director of basketball operations – and NCAA rules meetings with the institution’s compliance staff as proactive measures, which promoted an atmosphere of compliance. In practice, however, the head basketball coach operated under assumptions and he neglected to inquire and monitor his staff and student-athletes. The head basketball coach’s generalized statements fail to rebut the presumption. Therefore, the head basketball coach is accountable for the violations that involved his student-athletes and staff, occurred in student-athlete academics and resulted from their interactions and engagements with the representative.
The head basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance because the head basketball coach’s student-athletes and staff felt comfortable committing academic extra benefit and academic fraud violations. He shoulders the responsibility of those staff members and their involvement in this severe violations. In particular, the head basketball coach is responsible for the actions of the director of basketball operations, whom he specifically hired to handle academics.
The head basketball coach acknowledged that his basketball program was struggling academically and he hired the director of basketball operations to report to him and solve the problem. At least initially, it worked. The head basketball coach’s program rebounded academically. Much of that change resulted from the efforts and involvement of the director of basketball operations.
Like many of the programs and initiatives at the institution, the head basketball coach initiated a well-intentioned solution, but he never verified that the solution operated within the bounds of NCAA legislation. Similar to the head coach in the University of Kentucky, the head basketball coach relied on the integrity of the director of basketball operations and assumed that his conduct abided by NCAA legislation and failed to monitor the director of basketball operations’ conduct, even though they met on a regular basis.
When asked about his specific monitoring efforts of the director of basketball operations, the head basketball coach could not identify specific steps that he took to monitor the director of basketball operations. Rather, the head basketball coach indicated that the director of basketball operations knew the rules. The head basketball coach indicated that his staff members, including the director of basketball operations, received rules education, their offices were in close proximity and they talked daily – with the director of basketball operations bringing any academic issues to the head basketball coach’s attention.
The head basketball coach knew some of his student-athletes required additional academic assistance or encountered academic difficulties, but trusted the director of basketball operations to handle those issues. Specifically, the head basketball coach knew that student-athlete 7 did not meet academic requirements and became ineligible. The head basketball coach also knew that the AMA staff denied student-athlete 7’s waiver and subsequent appeal. Finally, the head basketball coach knew of the January 25, 2012, meeting, the plan for student-athlete 7 to seek a grade change and that within two days student-athlete 7 secured a grade change. Throughout this entire time, the head basketball coach never once inquired or raised any concerns regarding the course of action or speed in which the student-athlete 7 restored his eligibility.
While the head basketball coach was not required to conduct a formal investigation, NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 required the head coach to seek additional information regarding the circumstances surrounding student-athlete 7’s grade change. He failed in his monitoring responsibilities. He did not monitor the course of action or the manner in which it occurred. He entrusted the director of basketball operations, the very person who orchestrated and committed the academic fraud, to keep him updated about the progress. Similar to the head coach in University of Miami, the head basketball coach is responsible for the conduct of his staff. The head basketball coach is responsible for the director of basketball operations’ conduct.
The head basketball coach also failed to monitor the director of basketball operations involvement in academics in prior semesters. As early as the 2010-11 academic year, the director of basketball operations became aware that the support services mentor engaged in impermissible academic activities on behalf of men’s basketball student-athletes. There is no information that suggests that the director of basketball operations or the student-athletes expressed concerns or reported the impermissible benefits. Conversely, based on the culture of compliance within the men’s basketball program, these impermissible benefits were accepted, if not encouraged.
When the head basketball coach failed to monitor the director of basketball operations and his involvement in the process of restoring student-athlete 7’s eligibility and involvement in student-athletes’ academic affairs generally he failed to carry out his responsibilities as a head basketball coach and violated NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124. In total, four men’s basketball student-athletes received varying degrees of impermissible academic assistance. The director of basketball operations and the support services mentor were directly involved in the impermissible assistance. The student-athletes and staff members knew or should have known that these activities were contrary to NCAA legislation. The head basketball coach is responsible for the violations that occurred in his program. Therefore, the head basketball coach failed in his head coaching responsibility to promote an atmosphere of compliance because student-athletes and staff that either directly or indirectly reported to him committed academic violations of NCAA legislation. When he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance, the head basketball coach violated NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
The head basketball coach also failed in his responsibilities as a head basketball coach with respect to his student-athletes’ and staffs’ interaction with the representative. The institution and the head basketball coach went to great lengths to distinguish the representative from other “flashy” boosters. Regardless of the distinction, the institution acknowledged in its response to the NOA that the he met the definition of a representative. Also regardless of that distinction, the head basketball coach was aware of, and with respect to student-athlete 1 encouraged, the relationships that the representative formed within the head basketball coach’s program. The representative received unique access to the head basketball coach’s program, developed relationships with the head basketball coach’s staff and student-athletes and became the focal point of a series of self-reported violations involving the head basketball coach’s staff and student-athletes. The representative regularly received complimentary admissions from both student-athletes and staff – admissions the head basketball coach routinely checked. The head basketball coach knew of the representative, his access and the relationships he developed within his program. The head basketball coach also knew that the representative paid men’s basketballs student-athletes but assumed that the payments were appropriate and the compliance office was aware. The head basketball coach never raised his concerns with compliance. Previously, when concluding that a head coach violated NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, the committee noted the head coach’s awareness of relationships and his failure to address any concerns with compliance or his staff. See St. Mary’s College of California, Case No. M349, (2013). Again, the head coach assumed that the representative relationships were appropriate under NCAA legislation and outside of inquiring whether the representative was an AAU coach, failed to discuss the representative with his staff and student-athletes. Irrespective of the representative’s appearance, the head coach had a duty to ensure that his staffs’ and student-athletes’ interactions with him complied with NCAA legislation.
The head basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance for his student-athletes’ and staff’s interactions with the representative. Because the head basketball coach’s student-athletes and staff felt comfortable interacting with the representative and those interactions resulted in a series of NCAA violations the head basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program. Further, when the head basketball coach became aware that his student-athletes and staff engaged in friendships with the representative, the head basketball coach had a duty to inquire about and monitor those relationships. He did not. The head basketball coach failed in his responsibilities and violated NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because many of the underlying violations were Level I and involved the head basketball coach’s staff members and student-athletes.
Violations of NCAA Constitution 2.1.1, 2.8.1 and 6.01.1 (2001-02 through 2011-12)
For approximately 10 years, the institution failed to exercise proper control over the administration of its athletics program and employed deficient monitoring systems, which allowed violations to occur on and off campus that involved: (1) student-athlete academics; (2) the institution’s compliance with its own drug policy and (3) staff and student-athlete relationships and engagement with the community and a representative. The institution’s cumulative failures over an extended period of time violated the NCAA Constitution.
Generally, NCAA Constitution 2.1.1, 2.8.1 and 6.01.1 require that each member institution comply with all rules and regulations of the Association, monitor its programs to ensure compliance and mandates that the institution’s administration or faculty, or a combination of the two, exercise control and responsibility over the conduct of the institution’s intercollegiate athletics programs. The institution failed in this regard.
Recently, the Committee emphasized the need for institutions to implement proper policies, procedures and internal monitoring systems. See University of Miami, Case No. M362 (2013). In University of Miami, the committee also stressed the need for those systems to effectively deter and detect violations. Although University of Miami involved its own unique set of facts relating to a representative and other institutional violations, the overreaching principles and measures of institutional control apply to all member institutions. The panel re-emphasizes the need for effective systems that monitor, promptly detect and deter potential violations. Further, when institutional staff members discover potential violations, the institution must promote a culture where institutional staff members feel comfortable reporting those discoveries. Additionally, the institution must adequately educate staff and student-athletes on permissible and impermissible activities.
Previously, the committee also recognized that maintaining institutional controls in high-profile programs that involve high-profile student-athletes present unique challenges to compliance staffs. See University of Southern California, Case No. 323 (2010). The committee further cautioned that institutions must closely monitor and follow through on information when exercising appropriate controls. Although University of Southern California involved different facts and violations resulting from representatives’ involvement with student-athletes, the heightened controls and monitoring expectations for high-profile programs and student-athletes applies to all member institutions. In this case, the institution’s men’s basketball program performs on the highest level and attracts premiere student-athletes.
In this case, the institution lacked these systems. Student-athletes and institutional staff committed violations freely or did not know that their conduct violated NCAA legislation. Many of those violations went undiscovered for years. Institutional staff members failed to inquire and ensure that relationships and activities met NCAA requirements and, in at least one instance, an institutional staff member failed to report potential academic violations mindful of potential retaliation. The institution permitted athletics success to supersede NCAA standards of conduct and in doing so allowed its athletics programs to operate contrary to the integrity expected by the Division I membership.
The institution failed to exercise control and monitor the manner in which student-athlete 7 secured a grade change and, to a lesser extent, the manner in which the institution carried out student-athlete support services for men’s basketball student-athletes. Institutional control is defined in common sense terms. The facts and circumstances surrounding student-athlete 7’s grade change lacked common sense. The panel understood that proper motivation existed to initiate the January 25, 2012, meeting between institutional leadership from academics and athletics. The meeting was the first of its kind and aimed at exploring appropriate options for student-athlete 7. At its heart, however, the meeting focused on restoring his eligibility so that the star player could return to competition. The institutional leaders present at the meeting knew that student-athletes 7’s waiver and subsequent appeal had been denied and should have known that any activities that restored his eligibility would likely be closely scrutinized. Further, presumably everyone, but at least the athletics leadership, knew that the enforcement staff was in the middle of an investigation of the institution and men’s basketball program.
Despite this knowledge and the high-profile nature of the men’s basketball program and student-athlete 7, neither the institution’s academics nor athletics leadership proactively monitored or reviewed the status of student-athlete 7’s grade change. They entrusted the director of basketball operations to inform student-athlete 7 of his options without any follow up. Worse yet, no one questioned the manner in which student-athlete 7 was able to secure the grade change to restore his eligibility in only two days for a course he completed nearly one year earlier. Instead, once informed that the professor reviewed student-athlete 7’s submission and knowing that the men’s basketball team had a competition the next day, athletics staff tried to ensure that the professor finished the grade change process prior to the close of business. Athletics staff members continued to fail to review the circumstances surrounding the grade change, despite the fact that the College of Arts and Sciences questioned the grade change’s timing and impact on eligibility.
In this case, appropriate controls and monitoring surrounding the student-athlete were absent. The institution failed to heed and employ the monitoring efforts emphasized by the committee in University of Southern California. The process began with a well-intentioned meeting to discuss permissible options. However, that process lacked control and monitoring in its execution. Those responsible for ensuring that the process was executed in accordance with NCAA bylaws failed to monitor the student-athlete 7’s progress, particularly at a time when the institution knew or should have known student-athlete 7’s eligibility would be closely scrutinized.
The institution also permitted three football student-athletes and the part-time tutor to engage in academic fraud. The academic fraud stemmed from the institution’s ongoing relationship with the YMCA, the representative and the part-time tutor. The institution failed to provide the part-time tutor with any rules education after his first year in 1989, which was even then, limited. Further, after student-athletes 2 and 3 could not fulfill their course requirements in a timely fashion, the institution did not inquire or monitor the YMCA’s sponsorship of the community service requirements. The institution’s failure to monitor the YMCA’s involvement permitted the part-time tutor and student-athlete 6 to also commit academic fraud.
Additionally, the institution failed to monitor student-athlete support services with men’s basketball student-athletes and permitted a culture to exist whereby student-athletes received impermissible assistance and violations went undetected and unreported. The director of basketball operations influenced the culture of academic support for men’s basketball student-athletes. Specifically, at the direction of the director of basketball operations, student-athlete support services staff operated outside of its policies and procedures in the support it provided to men’s basketball student-athletes. Student-athlete support services staff operated contrary to institutional policies and procedures. Staff members accessed student-athletes network and email accounts to track student-athletes’ academic progress, but also to send emails and coursework on behalf of student-athletes. Student-athlete support services staff also operated contrary to NCAA Bylaw 16 when the support services mentor and tutor also provided impermissible academic assistance to men’s basketball student-athletes when they created or revised coursework.
Finally, the culture did not promote reporting potential NCAA violations without fear of retaliation. The director of student-athlete support services noticed that the support services mentor and tutor may have been supplying men’s basketball student-athletes with impermissible academic assistance. The director of student-athlete support services raised the concern to colleagues but failed to report the potential violation to appropriate athletics staff members. He feared he would not be taken seriously and believed that men’s basketball received “special treatment.” He also believed that the director of basketball operations was involved in pushing out a former veteran academic support employee. Despite these concerns, the director of student-athlete support services assigned the support services mentor to work with student-athlete 9. Years later, the institution discovered that the support services mentor provided both student-athlete 8 and student-athlete 9 with impermissible extra benefits and later engaged in academic fraud on with the director of basketball operations for student-athlete 7.
From 2001 to 2009, the institution failed to follow its written drug testing policy. The manner in which it engaged in its drug testing policies and procedures lacked necessary control. Like many of the other severe violations involved in this case, the institution’s actions regarding its dismissal of the written drug testing policies and procedures were aimed at preserving student-athletes’ ability to compete for the men’s basketball program.
When the institution developed its written drug testing policies and procedures, it intended to provide its student-athletes with rehabilitative support. Each positive drug test included repercussions and declared the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate athletics until the student-athlete, head basketball coach or other institutional employee met certain requirements. In practice, the institution did not follow its written requirements. Again, basketball culture predominated the written drug testing policies and procedures. The institution’s leadership did not require the head basketball coach and other institutional personnel to follow the requirements of the written drug testing policy.
The Representative and Community Activities
The institution fostered a culture that promoted its student-athletes’ participation in community relations, but it failed to control and monitor student-athletes’ activities and the relationships that stemmed from those interactions. The institution self-reported violations stemming from community activities or relationships that the enforcement staff included in six of its 14 allegations. These violations consisted of student-athletes’ relationship with a representative, student-athletes’ involvement in promotional or community activities and benefits that stemmed from those relationships and engagements. Many of these interactions would have been appropriate under NCAA legislation, assuming that the proper safeguards and monitoring systems are in place. Unfortunately, the needed safeguards and systems were not established.
With respect to the representative, the institution did not monitor his relationships and interactions with its student-athletes. The representative wore many “hats” that included a former affiliation with a local AAU team, an individual responsible for teaching or directing an activity in which a prospect is involved, YMCA employee, mentor and representative. Each of these roles activated NCAA legislation and required specific monitoring and, in some cases, education. When the institution failed to monitor these interactions and relationships and failed to provide student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff with adequate education, violations occurred. Specifically, the institution permitted the representative to provide student-athletes with over eight thousand dollars in payments, provide athletics staff with benefits and payments that they did not report as outside income and provided or arranged for impermissible transportation for student-athletes. While the numerical value of payments and motivation behind the relationships may differ, the representative’s access to high-profile student-athletes in a renowned men’s basketball program and the relationships that stemmed from that access parallel the access and improper relationships in University of Miami. Like University of Miami, the representative operated in plain view of institutional personnel and the head coach. Further, institutional personnel facilitated, supported and encouraged the relationships student-athletes and athletics staff developed with the representative without appropriately monitoring and without providing adequate education.
Finally, the Committee noted that, at least on the front end, student-athletes, athletics staff and the representative received rules education about permissible and impermissible activities. The panel concluded, however, that the rules education was inadequate because student-athletes, staff and the representative either did not know the rules or felt comfortable engaging in activities that violated NCAA legislation.
With respect to student-athletes’ involvement in the community, the institution failed to control and monitor its student-athletes’ participation in community events. The institution lacked the proper compliance systems to verify and monitor that student-athletes’ involvement with promotional and community activities met NCAA legislation. In many cases, student-athletes never filled out forms relating to their participation in such activities. In other cases, student-athletes partially filled out forms but the director of athletics failed to certify the student-athletes’ participation with his signature. A proper, well-developed system for documenting and oversight could have prevented these violations.
Finally, the institution knew that its student-athletes both volunteered and participated in community related events because the institution encouraged that type of involvement. Until 2009, however, the institution did not conduct site visits at the locations where student-athletes volunteered, interned or participated.
The institution reported that it “has been, and remains, fully committed to a vigorous, best-in-class compliance function.” From the 2001-02 through 2011-12 academic years the institution’s control over its athletics program failed to resemble a “vigorous, best-in-class compliance function.” During that time, the institution permitted institutional staff, student-athletes and persons associated with its athletics programs to engage in conduct contrary to established NCAA institutional policies and procedures. On a number of occasions, the institution set in motion initiatives and/or relationships for its programs and student-athletes that appeared to be well intentioned. The intuition failed to establish proper controls and failed to monitor those activities, many of which resulted in concluded violations of NCAA legislation. When the institution lacked the appropriate controls for and failed to monitor its athletics programs, student-athletes and staffs, it failed to meet the expectations requirements of Division I membership and NCAA Constitutional provisions 2.1.1, 2.8.1 and 6.01.1.
The Committee concluded that the facts as found constituted Level I violations of NCAA bylaws because the manner in which the institution administered its athletics program seriously undermined and threatened the NCAA Collegiate Model.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized Syracuse as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Five years of probation from March 6, 2015 through March 5, 2020.
3. Pursuant to former NCAA Bylaws 19.5.2-(h) and 220.127.116.11, Syracuse shall vacate all wins from the academic years 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 in men’s basketball and 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 in football in which student-athletes 1 through 10 competed while ineligible.
4. Syracuse shall pay a fine to the NCAA of $500 per contest played by student-athletes 1 through 10 when they were ineligible to participate.
5. Syracuse shall return to the NCAA all of the monies it has received to date through the former Big East Conference revenue sharing for its appearances in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that are scheduled to be provided to the institution shall be withheld by the conference and forfeited to the NCAA.
6. In men’s basketball, the total number of athletically related financial aid awards in men’s basketball shall be reduced by three awards during each of the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.
7. In men’s basketball, reduction in the number of permissible off-campus recruiters from four to two beginning June 1, 2015, to May 31, 2017.
8. The head men’s basketball coach shall be suspended from all coaching duties for the first nine conference games for the 2015-16 season.
9. Syracuse’s men’s basketball program shall end its 2014-15 academic year basketball season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including any foreign tours and conference and/or NCAA tournaments or championships.