The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of South Carolina (“Institution” or “USC” or “South Carolina”) 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 has led to significant reforms to strengthen the NCAA Collegiate Model. This case centered on the unethical conduct of the former assistant men’s basketball coach at the South Carolina who was involved in the bribery scheme to sell access to student-athletes. Additionally, following his separation from South Carolina, the assistant coach failed to cooperate with the investigation in this matter.
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 accepted the penalties proposed by South Carolina and proposed an additional core penalty for the assistant coach. The assistant coach did not respond to the proposed penalty. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168, neither party has the opportunity to appeal.
From August 2015 through March 2016, the assistant coach accepted bribe payments from an individual associated with a professional sports agent who wanted to gain access to student-athletes with NBA potential. South Carolina and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the agent associate provided the assistant coach with approximately $3,356.00 to $5,856.00 in bribes. In exchange, the assistant coach agreed to arrange meetings with a South Carolina men’s basketball student-athlete and his family and influence them to retain the agent’s professional services.
Although the assistant coach accepted the bribes for the purpose of providing access to the student-athlete, he did not actually arrange any meetings between student-athletes and agents or financial advisors while he was employed at South Carolina. He left the employment of South Carolina in April 2016 to take an associate head coach position at another NCAA member institution, where two financial advisors took over the bribe payments previously made by the agent associate.
During federal criminal proceedings, the assistant coach acknowledged that he abused his position of trust and exposed his employers to NCAA violations by engaging in this conduct. He stated that he participated in the bribery scheme because he thought it was “an easy way to make money.” COI stated the assistant coach’s conduct does serious harm to the integrity of the Collegiate Model and constitutes a Level I violation.
After his separation from South Carolina—and subsequent employment and separation from another member institution—the assistant coach committed further violations when he failed to cooperate with the investigation in this case. Beginning in June 2019, he failed to respond to multiple requests to participate in an interview with the NCAA enforcement staff and to provide information relevant to the investigation. When individuals fail to cooperate with the infractions process, they critically hinder the effectiveness of the membership’s infractions model. The assistant coach failed to meet his obligation to cooperate and violated ethical conduct legislation when he refused to participate in the investigation and processing of this case. These are Level I violations.
The Committee concluded that USC committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(e) and 11.1.3 (2015-16) (Level I)
The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from at least August 2015 through March 2016, the assistant coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly solicited and received benefits in order to influence a student-athlete and his family to meet with and retain a professional athlete agency. Specifically, the assistant coach accepted approximately $3,356.00 to $5,856.00 in bribes from the agent associate in exchange for the assistant coach’s agreement to arrange meetings with a then South Carolina men’s basketball student-athlete and his family and influence them to retain a sports agent and his agency. The facts do not show that the assistant coach ever arranged a meeting between the agent/agency and the student-athlete. Also, the student-athlete did not retain the agent/agency to represent his professional interests.
Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2018-19 and 2019-20)] (Level I)
Beginning June 18, 2019, and continuing to the present, the assistant coach failed to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff when he refused to participate in an interview and provide information relevant to an investigation of possible violations.
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).
Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).
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 Assistant Coach
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 Assistant Coach
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized USC as follows: