The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Alabama (“Institution” or “UA” or “Alabama”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.
The conduct at issue in this case was related to a broader scheme that involved money and influence at the intersection of collegiate and professional basketball. The scheme resulted in the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals—including college basketball coaches—on conspiracy and bribery charges, and it led to significant reforms to strengthen the NCAA Collegiate Model. Within this broader scheme, the violations in this case were unique in that they resulted from the conduct of an administrator rather than a coach. This case centered on the unethical conduct of a former associate director of athletics at Alabama, who received money in exchange for facilitating a meeting between the father of a student-athlete, a financial advisor and the advisor’s representative. Additionally, following his separation from Alabama, the associate AD failed to cooperate with the investigation.
COI 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”). Through that process, COI proposed core penalties for Alabama and the associate AD. Alabama challenged COI’s proposed penalties against the Institution on the written record, requesting that COI prescribe the minimum penalties contemplated by the membership’s penalty guidelines. The associate AD never responded. Given the substantive nature of the violations in this case, and among other reasons, COI maintained its proposed penalties. Alabama is permitted to appeal those penalties. Because the associate AD never responded, he does not have the opportunity to appeal.
Regarding the first violation, the associate AD knowingly received money during or around a series of meetings in the spring and summer of 2017 from a financial advisor and the advisor’s representative in exchange for access to student-athletes. Alabama and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that these meetings culminated with the associate AD arranging a dinner meeting, at the representative’s request, with the father of a prominent Alabama men’s basketball student-athlete. Dinner attendees were the associate AD, the financial advisor, his representative and the student-athlete’s father. The financial advisor paid the dinner tab and the representative gave the associate AD money following the dinner.
The associate AD had an important role—administrative and operational oversight of the men’s basketball staff and program. He also had a family connection with the advisor’s representative. The advisor’s representative introduced the associate AD and the financial advisor over lunch in May 2017. The advisor’s representative provided the associate AD money following the introductory lunch. The group would meet again a few months later. Although it is unclear whether the associate AD received money around the second meeting, the advisor’s representative transferred money to the associate AD after a late July meeting between the financial advisor and his representative.
The associate AD admitted he knew from the first meeting that the financial advisor and his representative wanted access to student-athletes and their parents. He also knew that they wanted him to facilitate that access because it would enhance their credibility if they were brought in by an administrator. The associate AD’s conduct cut to the core of the integrity of the Collegiate Model. It undermined the ethical standards of conduct expected of all institutional employees and establishes a Level I violation.
After separating from Alabama, the associate AD refused to cooperate with the investigation when he did not provide requested records. Initially, the associate AD declined to be interviewed by the NCAA enforcement staff, but he ultimately participated in an unrecorded interview. Following that interview, and in an effort to corroborate the associate AD’s statements, the NCAA enforcement staff requested bank, telephone and text records. The associate AD refused to provide those records. As a non-participating party, the associate AD’s violations are uncontested, and COI determined his failure to cooperate is Level I.
The Committee concluded that UA committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1 and 10.1 (2016-17 and 2017-18) and 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 (2017-18) (Level I)
Alabama and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from May through September 2017, the associate AD violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by knowingly accepting benefits to facilitate or arrange a meeting between a student-athlete’s parent, a financial advisor and the advisor’s representative. Specifically, the associate AD received a dinner and at least $3,000.00 from financial representatives, in conjunction with the associate AD arranging a dinner for the financial representatives to meet with the father of a then men’s basketball student-athlete. The financial representatives also paid for the father’s dinner, resulting in an additional impermissible benefit.
Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a), 19.2.3 and 19.2.3-(c) (2019-20) (Level I)
The NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from November 2019, and continuing to the present, the associate AD failed to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff when he refused to provide information relevant to an investigation of possible violations. Specifically, on November 21, 2019, the NCAA enforcement staff requested telephone, messaging and bank records from the associate AD that were relevant to determining his involvement in potential violations of NCAA legislation. To date and despite additional requests from the NCAA enforcement staff, the associate AD has not provided the requested records to the NCAA enforcement staff.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4
Aggravating Factors for the Institution
A history of Level I, Level II or major violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(b).
Mitigating Factors for the Institution
Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).
Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(c).
An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(d).
Implementation of a system of compliance methods designed to ensure rules compliance and satisfaction of institutional/coaches’ control standards. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(e).
Aggravating Factors for the Involved Individual
Multiple Level I violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(a).
Unethical conduct and refusing to provide all relevant or requested information. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(e).
Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation(s) or wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).
Conduct or circumstances demonstrating an abuse of trust. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(j).
Conduct intended to generate pecuniary gain. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(l).
Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution and bylaws. NCAA Bylaw 9.3-(m).
Mitigating Factors for the Involved Individual
The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(h).
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized UA as follows: