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 involved benefits violations within the women’s tennis program at Wilmington University (“WU” or “Wilmington”), as well as ethical conduct, head coach responsibility and responsibility to cooperate violations by the former head women’s tennis coach (“head coach”). COI considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process in which Wilmington and the enforcement staff agreed to the primary facts and violations as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). The head coach did not participate in the process. COI proposed additional penalties for Wilmington and a show-cause order for the head coach. Wilmington accepted the penalties and the head coach did not respond to the correspondence proposing the show-cause order. Therefore, neither party has the opportunity to appeal.
The Committee concluded that WU committed the following violations:
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.1-(c) and 14.11.1 (2016-17); 10.01.1, 10.1, 15.01.2, 15.01.3, 16.8.1, 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168-(d) (2016-17 through 2018-19); and 10.1-(b) and 14.12.1 (2017-18 and 2018-19)
Wilmington and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from the 2016-17 academic year through January 2019, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly provided approximately $2,893.00 in impermissible benefits to eight women’s tennis student-athletes. As a result of these impermissible benefits, the eight women’s tennis student-athletes competed in 52 contests and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible.
From fall of 2016 through January 2019, the head coach provided seven women’s tennis student-athletes with cash for groceries, meals, gas, ride sharing services and tuition. The approximate value of these impermissible benefits totaled $1,005.00. NCAA Bylaws 10.1-(c) (2016-17); 10.01.1, 10.1, 15.01.2, 15.01.3, 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199-(d) (2016-17 through 2018-19) and 10.1-(b) (2017-18 and 2018-19).
From fall of 2016 to January 2019, the head coach provided impermissible transportation to seven women’s tennis student-athletes on at least 210 occasions, including local rides and rides from the Wilmington, Delaware, area to locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The approximate value of these impermissible benefits totaled $1,698.00. NCAA Bylaws 10.1-(c) (2016-17); 10.01.1, 10.1, 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206-(d) (2016-17 through 2018-19) and 10.1-(b) (2017-18 and 2018-19).
During the 2017-18 academic year, the head coach provided a women’s tennis student-athlete with gifts, including a digital camera and perfume. The approximate value of these impermissible benefits totaled $190.00. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(b) and 220.127.116.11 (2017-18).
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 18.104.22.168 (2016-17 through 2018-19)
Wilmington and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from August 2016 through January 2019, 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.
Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.01.3 (2018-19 and 2019-20)
Wilmington and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from July 2019 and continuing to the present, the head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct and failed to cooperate with the enforcement staff when he refused to participate in an interview despite being requested to do so on numerous occasions.
As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized WU as follows:
- Public reprimand and censure through the release of the public infractions decision.
- Probation: One year of probation from April 16, 2020, to April 15, 2021.
- During this period of probation, Wilmington shall:
- Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive compliance and educational program on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institutional staff members with responsibility for ensuring compliance with NCAA legislation on certification and recruiting; (a) Submit a preliminary report to the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) by June 1, 2020, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program; (b) File with the OCOI a final compliance report indicating the progress made with this program by February 28, 2021. Particular emphasis shall be placed on rules education and monitoring related to benefits, eligibility, head coach responsibility and ethical conduct legislation; (c) Inform women’s tennis prospects in writing that Wilmington is on probation for one year and detail the violations committed. If a prospect takes an official paid visit, the information regarding violations, penalties and terms of probation must be provided in advance of the visit. Otherwise, the information must be provided before a prospect signs a National Letter of Intent; and (d) Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the infractions by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the affected sport program and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletics department’s main webpage “landing page” and in the media guides for women’s tennis. The institution’s statement must: (i) clearly describe the infractions; (ii) include the length of the probationary period associated with the case; and (iii) give members of the general public a clear indication of what happened in the case to allow the public (particularly prospects and their families) to make informed, knowledgeable decisions. A statement that refers only to the probationary period with nothing more is not sufficient
- Vacation of team and individual records: As agreed to by Wilmington, multiple women’s tennis student-athletes competed while ineligible over three academic years as a result of violations in this case. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaw 19.5.2-(g), Wilmington shall vacate all regular season and conference tournament wins, records and participation in which the ineligible student-athletes competed from the time they became ineligible through the time they were reinstated as eligible for competition.10 Further, if the ineligible student-athletes participated in NCAA postseason competition at any time they were ineligible, Wilmington’s participation in the postseason contests in which the ineligible competition occurred shall be vacated. The individual records of the ineligible student-athletes shall also be vacated. However, the individual finishes and any awards for all eligible student-athletes shall be retained. Further, Wilmington’s records regarding its women’s tennis program, as well as the records of the head coach, shall reflect the vacated records and be recorded in all publications in which such records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. Any institution that may subsequently hire the affected head coach shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in his career records documented in media guides and other publications cited above. Head coaches with vacated wins on their records may not count the vacated wins toward specific honors or victory “milestones” such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories. Any public reference to the vacated records shall be removed from the athletics department stationery, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies awarded by the NCAA in women’s tennis shall be returned to the Association.
- Wilmington shall pay a $5,000 fine.
- Show-cause order: The head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly provided women’s tennis student-athletes with impermissible benefits that included cash for tuition, groceries, meals, gas and ride sharing services, transportation and gifts. In addition, he violated head coach responsibility legislation when he could not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance due to his personal involvement in the violations. He further violated ethical conduct legislation and failed to cooperate when he refused to participate in an interview with the enforcement staff after his resignation from Wilmington. Therefore, the head coach shall be subject to a five-year show-cause order from April 16, 2020, to April 15, 2025. In accordance with Bylaw 22.214.171.124.1 and COI IOP 5-16-1-1, any employing member institution shall restrict the head coach from all athletically related activity during the show-cause period. If the head coach becomes employed by a member institution in an athletically related position during the five-year show-cause period, the employing institution shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the OCOI to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply. Although each case is unique, the duration of the show-cause order is consistent with those prescribed in prior cases involving ethical conduct, head coach responsibility and responsibility to cooperate violations. See Lane College (2019) (prescribing a five-year show-cause order for the head cross country and track and field coach who engaged in unethical conduct when he knowingly directed a partial qualifier to compete under an assumed name and travel and receive travel expenses while ineligible, failed to promote compliance and further violated ethical conduct legislation when he provided false and misleading information during the investigation) and Lynn (prescribing a five-year show-cause order for a compliance officer who engaged in unethical conduct when she knowingly represented that ineligible student-athletes were eligible to compete and further violated ethical conduct legislation and failed to cooperate when she refused to participate in an interview with the enforcement staff). Like in these cases, the head coach’s conduct warrants a five-year show-cause order
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