The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions (“COI” or “Committee”) is an independent administrative body comprised of individuals from the NCAA Division II membership and the public charged with deciding infractions cases involving member institutions and their staffs. This case centered on the actions of a former head men’s soccer coach who made impermissible tuition payments for two men’s soccer student-athletes at West Liberty University (“WLU”). The former head coach’s actions in knowingly providing the impermissible payments, and his later provision of false and misleading information, violated NCAA principles of ethical conduct and head coach responsibility. COI considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process, in which all parties agreed to the primary facts and violations as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). Because WLU and the former head coach agreed to the violations and proposed penalties, neither party has the opportunity to appeal.
The Committee concluded that WLU committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 14.12.1, 15.01.2, 15.01.3, 16.8.1 and 188.8.131.52 (2018-19)
WLU and the enforcement staff agreed that the head men’s soccer coach provided impermissible benefits in the form of tuition payments to two men’s soccer student-athletes as follows: (1) $3,000 for student-athlete 2 on August 16, 2018, and (2) $2,000 for student-athlete 1 on August 29, 2018. The head coach used funds from his personal camp account to make the tuition payments. Student-athletes 1 and 2 could not enroll in courses due to outstanding tuition bills from the previous semester. The head coach’s payment allowed the two student-athletes to enroll, practice and compete. Because of the impermissible benefits, student-athlete 2 competed in 14 contests and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible. Student-athlete 1 did not compete while ineligible but received actual and necessary expenses in the form of travel expenses associated with one competition.
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(b), 10.1-(c) and 184.108.40.206 (2018-19)
The institution, enforcement staff and the head coach agreed that on August 16, August 29, and October 15, 2018, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct and head coach responsibility legislation, as he is presumed responsible for violations outlined above and did not rebut that presumption. Specifically:
A. On August 16 and 29, 2018, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly provided two impermissible tuition payments from personal camp funds for student-athletes 1 and 2, as detailed above. These two tuition payments allowed both student-athletes to enroll in classes, practice and compete. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, and 10.1-(b).
B. On October 15, 2018, the head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he provided false or misleading information concerning his involvement in an NCAA violation. When asked if he provided a tuition payment from his personal camp account to any other student-athlete, the head coach stated that student-athlete 1 was the only student-athlete who received an impermissible tuition payment. This was false or misleading information as subsequent interviews revealed that the head coach paid tuition for both student-athletes 1 and 2 from the head coach’s personal camp account. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, and 10.1-(c).
C. Concerning the violations committed on August 16 and 29, 2018, the head coach is presumed responsible for the violations detailed above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the head coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance due to his personal involvement in the violations. NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11.
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized WLU as follows: