Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arkansas Penalized Again; Must Vacate 2 National Titles

The hammer has been laid down on the University of Arkansas for its latest bout of cheating, this time in the Men's Track & Field program:

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized University of Arkansas, Fayetteville for major violations in its men’s track and field program. This case involved several violations of NCAA recruiting rules committed by one former assistant coach and one prospective student-athlete, including unethical conduct by the former coach and an admitted failure to monitor by the university.

Penalties for the violations involve vacating the men’s track and field records including two national championships; placing the university on probation for three years; accepting the reduction of the number of men’s track and field scholarships; and placing the former coach on a two-year show-cause order. . . .

In reviewing this case, the committee was particularly concerned that the university has had three appearances before the committee in the past 10 years, making the university a rare ‘double repeat-violator.’”

Of further concern to the committee was that this case is another in a long string of major infractions cases involving, at least in part, violations associated with prospective student-athletes arriving on campus prior to full-time enrollment. . . .

On 10 to 15 occasions, the former coach made arrangements through his wife for his sister-in-law to tutor the prospective student-athlete. For each tutoring session, the prospective student-athlete was provided transportation between his apartment and the sister-in-law’s home. Further, the correspondence course required online submission of the answers to 17 unit lessons.

Either the former assistant coach’s wife or his sister-in-law obtained the answer sheets from the prospect for the unit lessons and entered them online. . . .

The committee found that the former coach’s actions were deliberate and in violation of fundamental recruiting rules and that his knowing involvement in arranging or providing recruiting inducements to the prospective student-athlete collectively rose to the level of unethical conduct.

The committee also found that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrated an institutional failure to monitor. The committee stated that the university’s major violation case in 1997 involved issues very similar to those in the current case and should have heightened the university’s attention to monitoring. . . .

The penalties in the case are as follows, with the university’s self-imposed penalties so noted: . . .

The university will vacate all NCAA, school and conference individual records as well as all individual meet results attained by the prospect (then a student-athlete) during the time he attended the institution and competed on the track team. Further, all team results from any competitions in which the student-athlete participated during the same time frame, as well as the record of the head coach, will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated records/results. This includes the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships won by the institution. . . .
John A. White, the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, is none too pleased, and is whining about the decision:

As we previously acknowledged, the violations in this case primarily involved a rogue former assistant coach and one student-athlete over a short period of time. We are disappointed with the penalties imposed by the infractions committee and believe they are disproportionate to the violations. The university vigorously investigated and self-reported the violations, and then implemented corrective measures and self-imposed penalties, including a reduction of scholarships and a period of probation. The university intends to file an appeal.

Perhaps making sure Arkansas does not hire rogue coaches in the future is the better response? Especially ones who do not get tossed in jail for committing multiple felonies?


Head coach John McDonnell reacts; history of vacated championships:

Arkansas Coach John Mc-Donnell grimly declined comment when reached by telephone in Kentucky, where the Razorbacks will attempt to win their 34 th consecutive conference cross country championship Saturday.

“I can’t even comment on it because we’re appealing it,” Mc-Donnell said. “We’ll see with the appeal what will happen with that. We have 30 days.”

McDonnell reacted briefly to the idea of losing two of the 42 national championships he has won in track and field and cross country.

“Oh yeah, I would say it was [a heavy blow ],” McDonnell said. “I can’t comment on it. I’m sorry. I would if I could.”

Arkansas is not the first track program to vacate a national championship, but it is not a common occurrence. Texas El-Paso lost its 1983 Outdoor title because of recruiting violations, but there have not been many other high-profile dockings. UCLA vacated its 1995 women’s softball championship, Hawaii lost its 2002 men’s volleyball title and Syracuse lost the 1990 lacrosse championship.

Will the USC football program be next?

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