The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Southern Indiana (“USI”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case involved the conduct of the men’s basketball coaching staff relating to extra benefits and academic fraud. Officials from USI initially appeared before the Committee on August 12, 2010 and again appeared before the Committee on December 12, 2010 after additional allegations were made against the former head men’s basketball coach.
The Committee found that USI committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Extra benefits in violation of NCAA Bylaws 16.02.3, 126.96.36.199, and 188.8.131.52-(d)
a. Student-athlete 1’s permanent home was far enough away from USI that he would require air transportation for initial enrollment. As such, he contacted former assistant coach 1 and stated “I will need some help with getting my [airline] ticket.” Former assistant coach 1 obliged and purchased a $600.00 plane ticket for student-athlete 1. During the investigation, former assistant basketball coach 1 provided a receipt showing that he was repaid by student-athlete 1 for the airline ticket, but subsequently admitted the receipt was fraudulent. Former assistant coach 1 also purchased student-athlete 1 an airline ticket so student-athlete 1 could return home for the holiday break. The airline ticket for his flight to return home for the holiday break was $720.79. In sum, former assistant coach 1 provided an approximately a $1,300.00 extra benefit to student-athlete 1.
b. Former assistant coach 1 argued that the violations at issue were merely secondary in nature. The Committee failed to follow former assistant coach 1’s reasoning and concluded 1) the violations were not isolated; 2) the violations were not inadvertent; and 3) no NCAA coach could honestly argue that NCAA rules permit a coach to purchase airline tickets for a student-athlete. As such, the Committee concluded such violations were major in nature.
2. Unethical conduct in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(b), 10.1-(c), and 10.1-(d)
a. Former assistant coach 1 knowingly committed violations of NCAA legislation that resulted in academic fraud and extra benefits. The Committee indicated this finding of unethical conduct encompassed four (4) violations of NCAA legislation including 1) former assistant coach 1 provided extra benefits (i.e., airline tickets) to student-athlete 1; 2) former assistant coach 1 provided false and misleading information regarding extra benefits during the investigation; 3) former assistant coach 1 requested that a representative of athletics interest (head men’s basketball coach’s father-in-law) compose a final exam paper for student-athlete 2, which ultimately lead to student-athlete 2 turning in a paper for academic credit prepared by the representative of athletics interest; and 4) former assistant coach 1 provided false and misleading information regarding academic fraud during the investigation.
3. Failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance in violation of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206
a. The head men’s basketball coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he 1) instructed former assistant coach 2 to violate NCAA legislation by providing impermissible transportation to a prospect and providing money for such transportation; and 2) failed to monitor the activities of former assistant coach 1, which lead to academic fraud and extra benefits.
b. The former head men’s basketball coach instructed former assistant coach 2 to transport a prospect approximately two hundred thirty (230) miles. The prospect, at the time, was enrolled in a summer term at USI in anticipation of enrollment in the fall. The former head men’s basketball coach provided former assistant coach 2 with $50.00 to purchase gas for the trip. The former head men’s basketball coach argued that the prospect had to go home to attend to a family emergency, but such argument was not corroborated and, in fact, former assistant coach 2 indicated he was not aware of such an emergency. Additionally, the former head men’s basketball coach failed to check with the athletics administration and compliance office to determine whether such transportation was permissible.
c. The former head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor the activities of former assistant coach 1 after instructing him to perform certain tasks. Specifically, the Committee noted it is the duty of the head coach to monitor all matters related to his program and shall keep abreast of matters he delegates to other coaches.
i. The former head men’s basketball coach claimed he asked about student-athlete 1’s transportation on numerous occasions while the matter was pending, but the Committee faulted him for failing to determine how the matter was resolved.
ii. The former head men’s basketball coach indicated that he instructed former assistant coach 1 to look over academic work completed by student-athlete 2 and to locate a tutor for him. Subsequently, he did not follow up to determine what assistance was provided to student-athlete 2. As such, the former head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor a situation that led to academic fraud involving his father-in-law, former assistant coach 1, and student-athlete 2.
4. Secondary violations in violation of NCAA Bylaws 13.4.5 and 16.9
a. During April 2009, former assistant coach 1 sent three (3) impermissible text messages to prospects. Additionally, several members of the men’s basketball coaching staff provided impermissible local transportation for student-athletes on more than an occasional basis.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized USI as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. One year of probation from February 4, 2011 through February 3, 2012.
3. USI’s men’s basketball team ended its 2009-10 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and was not eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including conference and NCAA tournaments, following the season.
4. Vacation of all wins in which student-athletes 1 and 2 competed from the time they became ineligible through the time their eligibility was reinstated by the NCAA. Student-athletes 1 and 2’s individual records were also vacated.
5. USI shall disassociate itself with the representative of athletics interest involved in academic fraud or show cause why it should not be penalized further if it fails to disassociate the representative of athletics interest.
6. The former head men’s basketball coach received a two (2) year show cause penalty.
7. Former assistant coach 1 received a three (3) year show cause penalty.
8. USI shall pay a fine of $2,500.00 to the NCAA.