The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Oklahoma (“OU”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The violations in this case were limited and involved one men’s basketball student-athlete and a former assistant men’s basketball coach. In August 2009, while the student-athlete was still a prospect, a financial advisor wired $3,000.00 into a bank account the student-athlete shared with his mother. The money was used to pay a debt owed to the student-athlete’s high school so that his academic transcript could be sent to the institution. He could not have enrolled at OU without the transcript being released. Subsequent to the transcript being released to the institution, the student-athlete enrolled and participated in thirty men’s basketball contests during the 2009-10 academic year.
The former assistant coach was aware of the student-athlete’s problem getting his transcript released. He learned of the payment to the student-athlete and his mother shortly after it was made but did not report it to the former head men’s basketball coach or any member of the athletics administration. Further, the former assistant coach provided false and misleading information regarding his knowledge of the payment when he was initially interviewed by OU and NCAA enforcement staff regarding the matter. His failure to disclose his knowledge of the payment, as well as his provision of false information, constituted unethical conduct.
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 major violations of NCAA legislation.
The Committee found that OU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Preferential treatment, ineligible participation, and extra benefits in violation of NCAA Bylaws 12.01.1, 12.1.1, 22.214.171.124.6, 14.11.1 and 126.96.36.199
On or about August 11, 2009, the financial advisor provided an impermissible benefit of $3,000.00 to the mother of the student-athlete, enabling the student-athlete to pay a debt owed to his high school so his official academic transcript could be released. As a result, the student-athlete was able to enroll at OU. He competed while ineligible and received travel expenses while representing the institution in competition during the 2009-10 academic year.
The former assistant coach was the main recruiter of the student-athlete and was aware that the student-athlete needed to do well academically his senior year to meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements. Consequently, the former assistant coach closely monitored the student-athlete’s academic performance as the 2008-09 academic year progressed. He became aware that the student-athlete had a balance on his high school student account that had to be paid before his transcript could be released.
When the student-athlete’s mother learned of the balance due at her son’s high school, the student-athlete’s mother contacted several individuals including the financial advisor to secure a loan of $3,000.00. The financial advisor agreed to advance funds to pay the outstanding balance at the student-athlete’s high school.
As soon as the student-athlete’s mother received the $3,000.00 payment, the student-athlete was ineligible to participate as a member of the men’s basketball team. Therefore, all of the money expended by OU on his behalf for travel expenses during the 2009-10 academic year was spent in violation of NCAA extra benefit legislation.
2. Unethical conduct in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(d), and 11.1.1
On January 13, 2011, the former assistant coach acted contrary to the principles of ethical conduct and 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 when he 1) failed to disclose his knowledge of the violations to his head coach or athletics administration; and 2) knowingly provided false and misleading information to the NCAA and OU about when he learned of the $3,000.00 impermissible benefit.
The former assistant coach was well aware that there was a debt owing to the student-athlete’s high school. The former assistant coach and the student-athlete’s mother continued to have discussions regarding the debt until August 2009, when she informed him that she had obtained $3,000.00 from the financial advisor to pay the outstanding debt. The former assistant coach did not report this information to his head coach or to any member of the athletics administration.
In March 2010 a media outlet contacted OU and informed the institution that the student-athlete’s mother received $3,000.00 from a financial advisor. Initially, the student-athlete and his mother denied such allegations. Subsequently, the student-athlete’s mother confirmed that she did accept the money.
The former assistant coach also initially denied any involvement or knowledge of the $3,000.00 payment. However, a review of his cell phone records showed that the former assistant coach had forty-six telephone conversations with the financial advisor. The former head coach also confirmed that the former assistant coach acknowledged that he was aware of the $3,000.00 loan. Afterwards, the former assistant coach admitted that he was aware of the $3,000.00 benefit received by the student-athlete.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized OU as follows: