The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that University of California, San Diego (“UCSD”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case concerned violations in the women’s rowing program and dealt with allegations of student-athletes practicing, competing and receiving travel expenses while ineligible, coaches facilitating and allowing the violations to occur, and the administration of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs to student-athletes by the head coach of the women’s rowing team.
UCSD permitted student-athletes to practice, compete, and travel while ineligible in violation of NCAA Bylaws 15.01.2, 15.01.3, 16.01.1, 16.02.3, 16.9(e), 18.104.22.168(a), 22.214.171.124, and 126.96.36.199(d).
Student-athlete 1, a two-year college transfer, was in violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.6 when she practiced beyond 45 days after initially reporting for athletics participation. Further, when she rowed in the Head of the Lagoon regatta on November 14, 2010, and in the Sacramento Invitational on March 12, 2011, prior to being certified as eligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center, she did so in violation of NCAA Bylaw 14.5.1. The provision of competition related travel expenses she received on both instances were prohibited by NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206.
Student-athlete 2 became ineligible for travel and competition during the 2011 spring term due to her grade-point average dropping below the minimum required by UCSD for athletics participation. As of April 1, 2011, she was only allowed to practice. Student-athlete 2 rode on the team bus to the San Diego Crew Classic and competed in that event on April 2 and 3, 2011. Further, on April 30 and May 1, 2011, she competed at the WIRA Championships. NCAA Bylaw 14.4.1 allows only those student-athletes who have met institutional progress-toward-degree requirements to practice or compete, and, as stated above regarding NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11, an institution can only provide travel expenses to those student-athletes eligible for competition.
Student-athlete 3 was ineligible to compete during the fall of 2011 because she had not passed enough units toward her declared major in the academic year prior to joining the women’s rowing team. She was, however, able to practice. Student-athlete 3 competed in the Row for the Cure and Head of the Marina regattas in the fall of 2011. She received travel expenses in conjunction with the Head of the Marina event and the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival, which was held the same weekend. When student-athlete 3 competed and received travel expenses while ineligible due to not meeting NCAA progress-toward-degree requirements, NCAA Bylaws 14.4.1, 18.104.22.168.6(b), and 22.214.171.124 were violated.
Student-athletes 4 and 5 both received impermissible travel expenses at times when both were ineligible because they had not yet been certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Student-athlete 4 traveled with the team to a competition in Newport Beach on either March 3 or March 24, 2012. She was cleared for practice only on March 13. Student-athlete 5 traveled with the team to competitions and received meal money on November 5-6, 2011, at a time when she was only allowed to practice. NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 provides that student-athletes who have not yet been certified as eligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center are not eligible to compete. Accordingly, per NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, they should not have been provided travel and meal expenses related to competition.
The head coach provided a prescription anti-inflammatory drug to six student-athletes in violation of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206.
The head coach provided Voltaren, a prescription topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, to student-athlete 6 during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years and to student-athletes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 during 2011-12. She was not medically qualified to dispense the drug, she did not provide it to the general student body, and none of the student-athletes had prescriptions for the drug at the times the head coach provided it to them.
The head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct, failed to establish an atmosphere for compliance, and failed to cooperate by allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete, furnishing false information, providing prescription medication, and refusing to submit to a second interview in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1(a), 10.1(c), 10.1(d), 10.1(f), 220.127.116.11, 19.01.2, and 19.01.3.
The head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct, honesty and sportsmanship, and exemplary conduct. She also failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance in the women’s rowing program at UCSD. She knowingly permitted student-athletes 1, 2, and 3 to compete and receive travel expenses while ineligible, and she knowingly allowed student-athletes 4 and 5 to receive travel expenses while ineligible. The head coach knowingly allowed student-athlete 1 to practice while ineligible. The head coach took actions designed to hide the violations she was committing, including directing student-athletes to misrepresent themselves on travel-related documents and explained not to tell “a whole lot of people” about their participation. The head coach took such actions despite being told of the ineligibility of these student-athletes by the compliance staff.
The head coach also provided a prescription anti-inflammatory drug, to student-athletes 6-11, and she provided false information to the enforcement staff during her October 2, 2012, interview when she denied knowledge of some of the violations regarding student-athletes 1, 2, and 3. Finally, the head coach failed to cooperate when she refused to participate in a second interview with the enforcement staff subsequent to October 18, 2012.
The assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when she allowed an ineligible student-athlete to participate and provide false information in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, and 10.1(d).
The assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct, honesty, and sportsmanship when she permitted student-athlete 2 to compete under a false name and receive travel expenses. She further violated the same principles when she provided false or misleading information in her September 10, 2012 interview with the enforcement staff.
UCSD failed to monitor when it did not review travel documents and student-athlete surveys in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1.
UCSD did not perform what it described as a “back end” check following away-from-home contests in 2010-11 and 2011-12 to ensure that only eligible student-athletes had traveled to the events. The coaches were provided with eligibility rosters and were expected to allow only those student-athletes cleared for competition to travel, by the associated director of athletics signed off on receipts for women’s rowing expense reimbursements without comparing the names of those who had traveled with the eligibility lists.
UCSD also failed to review surveys submitted by the women’s rowing student-athletes. Starting in the spring of 2011, UCSD began requesting that student-athletes complete season evaluation surveys online rather than on paper. The women’s rowing team members completed their surveys as requested in May 2011 but the associate director of athletics neglected to review them, as was required by institutional protocols. The forms were not read for a year, after the violations in this case began to surface. Five student-athletes mentioned in the surveys that the head coach was allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete. Had the surveys been read in a timely fashion, the violations that occurred in the 2011-12 academic year may have been avoided.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized UCSD as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. One year of probation from August 6, 2013 through August 5, 2014.
3. Vacation of all results for the women’s rowing program for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years.
4. Financial penalty of $2,500.00.
5. The head coach received a 3 year show cause penalty.
6. The assistant coach received a 1 year show cause penalty.
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