The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Central Florida (“UCF”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case centered on the involvement of outside third-parties with prospects and student-athletes primarily in football and men’s basketball. The Committee pointed out the impermissible activity undertaken by third-parties was both known by athletics department personnel and, in some instances, encouraged.
The Committee found that UCF committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Impermissible recruiting activity by outside parties in violation of NCAA Bylaws 13.01.4, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52-(a), and 184.108.40.206.1
Between March 2009 and July 2011, representatives 1 and 2 assisted UCF in the recruitment of six men’s basketball and five football prospective student-athletes by promoting UCF’s athletics programs. At times, certain institutional staff members were aware of representatives 1 and 2’s activities and, at other times, institutional staff members involved them in the recruitment of specific prospective student-athletes. As a result, representatives 1 and 2 became representatives of athletics interests and committed violations of NCAA recruiting legislation.
From March 2009 to January 2011, representatives 1 and 2 had telephone and in-person off campus contact with six men’s basketball prospective student-athletes. At various times, the head basketball coach, assistant basketball coaches, and director of athletics were aware of the communications. During the recruitment, the athletics director communicated directly with the representatives about specific prospective student-athletes and praised their help in recruitment of prospective student-athletes.
From December 2010 to July 2011, representatives 1 and 2 had telephone and in-person on and off campus contact with five football prospective student-athletes. At various times, an assistant basketball coach and director of athletics were aware of the communications.
2. Impermissible benefits to prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in violation of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11.3.1, 18.104.22.168, 13.2.1, 14.11.1, 15.01.2, 15.01.3, and 22.214.171.124
From March 2009 through March 2011, representative 1 provided impermissible benefits to men’s basketball and football student-athletes and prospective student-athletes. The benefits were as follows: 1) $500 to student-athlete A; 2) $11,190.45 for tuition and institution fees for a men’s basketball student-athlete; 3) provided a laptop to prospect 10; 4) $234.90 in transportation expenses for prospect 4; 5) $375 in tuition expenses for prospect 4 to attend an alternative school; 6) $1,375 in tuition expenses for prospect 2 to attend an alternative school; 7) $1,125 in tuition expenses for prospect 2’s sister to attend an alternative school; and 8) $740.14 in transportation expenses for prospect 2’s travel.
3. Impermissible recruiting inducement – attempted arrangement for employment in violation of NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1 and 126.96.36.199-(a)
The director of athletics, representative 1, and another representative of athletics interest attempted to arrange employment for the mother of prospect 7 in the locale of UCF. The director of athletics argued that this violation should be considered a secondary because it was isolated, but the Committee indicated it was not inadvertent. The director of athletics’ attempt to help facilitate the job transfer to the locale of the institution of the mother of prospect 7, a highly-rated quarterback, was undertaken with the intent to enhance UCF’s chances of successfully recruiting the prospect. The director of athletics characterized the effort as “big” and referred to it as “the project,” which underscores the significance of the transfer of jobs in the eyes of the athletics director.
4. Unethical conduct in violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d)
Between January and September 7, 2011, the director of athletics failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics as required by NCAA legislation and violated the ethical-conduct legislation when he failed to take steps to prevent the involvement of athletics representatives in recruiting activities and, on at least one occasion, became involved in a violation himself as a result of the activity in which the representatives engaged. Further, the director of athletics provided false and misleading information when, during his May 5 and September 7, 2011, interviews with the institution and enforcement staff, he denied knowledge of the involvement of representative 1 in the recruitment of prospects 3 and 12.
5. Unethical conduct in violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d)
The assistant football coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly provided false and misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff when questioned about his knowledge of or involvement in violations of NCAA legislation. Specifically, on multiple occasions during his August 29, 2011, interview, the former assistant football coach denied that representatives 1 and 2 assisted the football program in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes 7, 8, and 10. His denials and related statements were at worst, false and at best, seriously misleading.
A review of various electronic records showed that the former assistant football coach 1) had 513 telephone and text message contacts with representative 1 and 287 telephone and test messaging contacts with representative 2 during key times of the recruitment of prospects 7 and 10; 2) prospect 8 sent a video highlight film to representative 1 and it was then forwarded to the assistant football coach; and 3) representative 1 sent an email to the assistant football coach with a link to the Kentucky All-State football team in which prospects 7 and 10 were named.
6. Failure to Monitor (Head Men’s Basketball Coach) in violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52
The head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor relative to the activities of representative 1 and his associates. Representative 1 was a recruiter for a professional sports agency and later became a representative of UCF’s interests through his recruiting activity. The head basketball coach was aware that representative 1 and his associates were promoting the institution’s athletics programs and assisting the institution in the recruitment of prospects, but failed to try to stop or discourage the activities, ask reasonable questions about the circumstances, or report violations.
Under ordinary circumstances, the Committee likely would have found that the head men’s basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance because of his knowledge of representative 1’s recruiting activity. However, the Committee noted that representative 1’s involvement in the institution’s recruiting began prior to the head coach’s arrival at UCF. In fact, the head basketball coach’s attorney stated during the hearing that it “would be much more reasonable and would not be an abuse of discretion by the Committee” to find failure to monitor.
7. Lack of institutional control in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1, 6.01.1, and 6.4.2
The scope and nature of the violations detailed above demonstrate that UCF failed to exercise institutional control and monitoring in the administration of its athletics programs by failing to monitor the conduct, interaction, and communication between various athletics department staff members and representative 1 and persons associated with representative 1. Further, an impermissible benefit was provided in conjunction with the institution’s relationship with representative 1.
The director of athletics, and other athletics department staff members, including men’s basketball and football coaching staff members, were aware that representative 1 and his associates maintained relationships with prospective student-athletes and their family members and promoted UCF’s athletics programs and assisted UCF in the recruitment of prospects, but failed to take action to discourage such activities.
During the time period when representative 1 and his associates were promoting the institution’s athletics programs and assisting the institution in recruitment, the director of athletics and the head basketball coach allowed representative 1 and his associates to receive tangible benefits and favors in the form of event tickets and access to the director of athletics, the institution’s athletics department programs and coaches.
The institution failed to implement adequate monitoring systems relating to the provision of out-of-state fee waivers to student workers to ensure that such fee waivers were provided to student workers performing duties as assigned.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized UCF as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Five years of probation from February 10, 2012 through February 9, 2017.
3. UCF’s football team shall end its 2012 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be allowed to participate in a conference championship game or bowl game.
4. UCF’s men’s basketball team shall end its 2012-13 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be allowed to participate in a conference championship event or post-season play.
5. Limit of 20 initial grants-in-aid and 80 total grants in football each year for three academic years.
6. Limit of 11 total grants-in-aid in men’s basketball for each year for three years.
7. The head men’s basketball coach was suspended without pay for the first three conference games of the 2011-12 season and an assistant coach was suspended for the first two conference games.
8. A financial penalty in the amount of $50,000 payable to the NCAA.
9. The men’s basketball team will vacate all wins in which student-athlete A competed in 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11.
10. A reduction of permissible recruiters as follows: 1) by two in football for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; 2) by one in men’s basketball during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; and 3) the head men’s basketball coach and assistant coach were prohibited from engaging in any off-campus recruiting activity during two of the three July evaluation periods during 2012.
11. Reduction in the available number of recruiting person days by 25 in the sport of men’s basketball for 2012-13 and 2013-14.
12. Reduction in the available number of recruiting evaluation days by nine in the fall evaluation period and 34 in the spring evaluation period in the sport of football or each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
13. Official paid visits in the sport of football shall be limited to 20 for each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
14. Official paid visits in the sport of men’s basketball shall be limited to seven for each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
15. If the head men’s basketball coach is still employed at this or any other NCAA member institution during the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 academic years, the employing institution shall show cause why it should not be penalized further if he is not required to comply with the recruiting restriction and attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminars in 2013 and 2014.
16. The director of athletics received a three-year show cause penalty.
17. The former assistant football coach received a one-year show cause penalty.
18. The permanent disassociation of representative 1, his son, and representative 2.