The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of New Hampshire (“UNH”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute violations of NCAA legislation.
From 2008 to 2012, the representative of the institution’s athletics interests (“representative”) provided impermissible benefits such as small gifts, meals, money for travel expenses and financial assistance for tuition to one or more of the eight then current or former student-athletes identified in this case and/or their family members. The former student-athletes received the impermissible benefits while enrolled at UNH and after graduating with no remaining years of eligibility.
Because the head women’s volleyball coach failed in May 2010 to report the representative’s graduation gifts and because the senior associate athletic director for compliance failed in August 2012 to inquire or investigate the matter regarding a student-athlete’s tuition payment, UNH failed to ensure compliance with the extra-benefit legislation. Accordingly, the parties agreed UNH failed to monitor the representative’s conduct.
The Committee determined that the case should move forward under a Level II standard and found that UNH committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
Violations of NCAA Bylaws 15.01.3 and 22.214.171.124.
Beginning in December 2008 and continuing through August 2012, the representative provided impermissible benefits in the form of cash, meals, travel expenses and educational expenses to multiple student-athletes and family members of the student-athletes. The approximate total value of the impermissible benefits provided was $22,336.00.
A. Between December 2008 and August 2011, the representative provided cash to a then women’s track and field student-athlete (“student-athlete A”), on three separate occasions, totaling $750.00. Additionally, the representative purchased an impermissible meal on one occasion for student-athlete A. The approximate total value of benefits provided was $766.00.
B. On March 1, 2009, the representative provided a check in the amount of $1,415.00 to the father of a then women’s ice hockey student-athlete (“student-athlete B”). Student-athlete B’s family used the money to purchase airline tickets from Scotland to New Hampshire so they could attend student-athlete B’s graduation ceremony.
C. In May 2010, the representative provided personalized mugs/steins as graduation gifts to four then women’s volleyball student-athletes (“students C, D, E, and F”), and each of their mothers. The approximate value of the benefits provided was $32.80 for each student-athlete.
D. In August 2012, the representative provided $20,000.00 in impermissible educational expenses for a then women’s track and field student-athlete (“student-athlete G”) to attend the institution during the 2012-13 academic year. Specifically, the representative provided $13,000.00 to student-athlete G and $7,000.00 to student-athlete G’s mother, a combined total of $20,000.00 used to pay for student-athlete G to attend UNH.
Violations of NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
Beginning in May 2009 and continuing through December 2012, the representative provided impermissible benefits in the form of cash, meals and gifts to three former student-athletes who graduated from UNH and had no remaining eligibility. The approximate total value of the impermissible benefits provided was $427.
A. In May 2009, the representative purchased a meal for student-athlete B, her parents and her brother. The impermissible benefit was provided after student-athlete B exhausted her eligibility and graduated from UNH. The approximate total value of benefits provided was $138.
B. Between January and November 2012, the representative provided $100, a personalized mug/stein and purchased meals on three occasions for student-athlete A. The impermissible benefits were provided after student-athlete A exhausted her eligibility and graduated from UNH. The approximate total value of benefits provided was $189.
C. In June 2012, the representative provided $100 as a graduation gift to a former women’s volleyball student-athlete (“student-athlete H”). The impermissible benefit was provided after student-athlete H exhausted her eligibility and graduated from UNH.
Violations of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1.
UNH failed to appropriately monitor the conduct of the representative to ensure compliance with NCAA extra benefit legislation.
A. The head women’s volleyball coach was present when the representative provided graduation gifts to four women’s volleyball student-athletes. However, the head women’s volleyball coach failed to recognize the provision of benefits as a violation of NCAA legislation and failed to report the matter to the athletics department. Partly as a result, the representative continued providing impermissible benefits to other student-athletes.
B. A compliance staff member became aware that a student-athlete intended to receive educational expenses from an outside source. Despite that knowledge, the compliance staff member failed to ask the student-athlete appropriate questions or follow up on the matter to determine whether the arrangement was in compliance with NCAA legislation.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.2 and 19.9.4.
Level II violations, representing an institution’s significant breach of conduct, includes one or more violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage or impermissible benefit. Level II violations are more serious than Level III and yet do not rise to the level of Level I. They include systematic violations that do not amount to a lack of institutional control or collective Level III violations.
A. Aggravating factors were as follows: 1) UNH had a major infractions case involving the men’s ice hockey program in 2009 (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(b)); 2) the head women’s volleyball coach, was aware of and witnessed the provision of impermissible benefits (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h)); and 3) student-athlete A was declared ineligible for accepting benefits from the representative and UNH did not seek reinstatement of her eligibility (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(i)).
B. Mitigating factors were as follows: when the information of a possible violation of NCAA legislation was reported to the head women’s gymnastics coach, she immediately informed the compliance office. The compliance office immediately declared the involved student-athlete ineligible, and launched an investigation into the possible violation, resulting in the discovery of additional violations. UNH cooperated throughout the investigative process and disassociated from the representative on its own accord (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b)).
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized UNH as follows:
Level II – Standard Core Penalties (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.5)
1. Two years of probation from June 27, 2014 through June 26, 2016.
2. UNH shall pay a financial penalty of $5,000.00 to the NCAA.
Level II – Standard Additional Penalties and Corrective Measures (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.7)
3. Public reprimand and censure.
4. UNH shall require mandatory attendance at the NCAA Regional Rules Seminars during the period of the probation for all athletics compliance staff and the head coaches of women’s ice hockey and volleyball, who were employed by UNH anytime between 2008 and 2012.