The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that West Virginia University (“WVU”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The violations in this case involved noncoaching staff members performing activities reserved for members of the coaching staff. The noncoaching staff members monitored and/or conducted athletically related activities such as skill development and seven-on-seven drills during the summer and winter, resulting in the noncoaching staff members becoming countable coaches. Additionally, some of the noncoaching staff members attended meetings involving coaching activities and analyzed video with student-athletes involving the institution’s or opponent’s team. 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 WVU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Exceeding Coaching Staff Limitations in violation of NCAA Bylaws 184.108.40.206.1, 220.127.116.11.1.1 (2009-10 NCAA Division I Manual), 11.7.2 and 18.104.22.168
A. From the 2005-2006 academic year through the fall semester of the 2009-10 academic year, WVU’s football program exceeded the permissible limit of the number of coaches when noncoaching sport-specific staff members engaged in on- and off-field coaching activities.
i. From the 2005-06 academic year through the fall semester of the 2007-08 academic year, video graduate assistants monitored and/or conducted skill development activities with football student-athletes that occurred at least two days per week during the summer. Those activities were in an attempt to help the student-athletes improve their technique and develop fundamental football-related skills.
ii. At various times the video assistants, all of whom aspired to be college coaches, also worked with student-athletes on skill development and attended position meetings where they worked directly with coaches.
iii. Video assistants and academic assistants watched and analyzed video involving the institution’s or an opponent’s team with student-athletes.
iv. A number of staff members including the director/coordinator of high school relations, the director/coordinator of player development, academic graduate assistants, student managers, video graduate assistants, and quality control graduate assistants monitored and conducted skill development activities with football student-athletes at least two days a week during a portion of the spring semester and summer.
2. Impermissible Athletically Related Activities in violation of NCAA Bylaws 17.02.1, 17.02.13, 22.214.171.124.1.1, and 126.96.36.199.4
A. During the summer of 2005 and the winters and summers of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, the institution’s football program violated NCAA legislation governing playing and practice seasons when it permitted graduate assistant coaches, a student assistant coach, noncoaching sport-specific staff members and student managers to monitor and/or conduct voluntary summer workouts and football coaches conducted impermissible activities outside the playing season.
i. Graduate assistant coaches and video graduate assistants monitored and conducted skill-development two days per week and observed and instructed student-athletes during seven-on-seven passing activities during the summers of 2005-2009. These individuals were not strength and conditioning coaches, thus they were precluded from performing such activities.
ii. During the winters of 2006-2009, coaching staff members conducted impermissible skill development activities following conditioning drills lasting fifteen to twenty minutes two times per week.
3. Failure to Monitor by Former Head Coach 1 in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1
A. Former head coach 1 acknowledged he failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the noncoaching sport-specific staff members. Former head coach 1 reported he did not know whether NCAA rules allowed involvement in summer voluntary activities by his graduate assistant coaches although noncoaching staff members reported that former head coach 1 directed them to perform such duties.
B. The NCAA enforcement staff and former head coach 1 were in disagreement relating to this charge. Former head coach 1 asserted that the proper charge was NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 and the NCAA enforcement staff stated the proper charge was a violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52. The Committee concluded they were presented with only a failure to monitor charge (i.e., NCAA Constitution 2.8.1), thus the finding relates to that charge.
4. Failure to Monitor by Former Head Coach 2 in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1
A. The violations at issue continued under former head coach 2. Former head coach 2 indicated that he mistakenly believed it was permissible for his graduate assistants to monitor and conduct summer skill development activities. After learning of the parameters of the rules relating to noncoaching staff members, former head coach 2 instructed noncoaching staff members to cease their involving in such activities.
5. Failure to Monitor by WVU in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1
A. From the 2005-06 academic year through the fall semester of the 2009-10 academic year, the athletics department failed to monitor its football program to assure compliance regarding the limitations on the number, duties, and activities of countable football coaches.
i. WVU acknowledged that it failed to monitor the duties and activities of the football graduate assistant coaches, noncoaching sport-specific staff members, former head coaches, and assistant football coaches. WVU did not consistently educate graduate assistant coaches and noncoaching staff members and did not monitor their actual responsibilities. Monthly rules seminars were provided to the football coaches and two graduate assistants, as well as email updates, but graduate assistants were never given individualized orientations. The graduate assistants indicated they were provided with education, but could not recall any rule sessions relating to the scope and limits of their duties.
ii. There was a breakdown in communication among the football staff, student services staff and the compliance staff that contributed to a lack of consistent NCAA rules education. The result of the breakdowns in communication lead to five years of impermissible athletically related activities.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized WVU as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Two years of probation from July 8, 2011 through July 7, 2013.
3. WVU eliminated two noncoaching graduate assistant positions with the football program.
4. Offensive support and defensive support graduate assistant positions are restricted from attending or observing any meetings involving coaching activities and all athletically related activities.
5. Beginning February 1, 2010, the coordinator of recruiting operations was restricted from attending or observing any meetings involving coaching activities and all athletically related activities and beginning June 1, 2010 the coordinator of recruiting operations was restricted further to prohibit attendance on the sidelines and home and away games.
6. Prior to its elimination, from February 10 through June 30, 2010, the position of director/coordinator of player development was restricted from attending or observing any meetings involving coaching activities and all athletically related activities.
7. Only seven coaches recruited for the week of September 26, through October 2, 2010.
8. The number of off-campus recruiters will be reduced from seven to six for the 2011 spring recruiting period.
9. WVU reduced the amount of countable athletically related activities for football student-athletes in the spring and summer of 2010 by a total of 46.25 hours.
10. WVU reduced by two the total number of scholarships awarded in football for the 2010-11 academic year.
11. WVU will reduce by one the total number of scholarships awarded in football for the 2011-12 academic year.