Sunday, November 2, 2008

NCAA Penalizes U. of the District of Columbia

This one has been a long time in coming, and it highlights continuing problems at UDC, which just recently hired yet another president. Best wishes, and best of luck to him. There is a good summary article at Inside Higher Ed, the NCAA press release is here, and details follow from the NCAA public infractions report:
This case presented the single most egregious lack of institutional control ever seen by the committee. Even though the institution has no more than approximately 90 student- athletes whose eligibility has to be tracked at any given time, from the 2000-01 academic year through 2003-04, an astounding 248 student-athletes and two prospective student- athletes were allowed to practice or compete while ineligible and/or receive impermissible athletically related financial aid or housing. The student-athletes were ineligible due to the institution's failure to follow a number of long-time, basic rules that should have been easily adhered to: initial eligibility requirements, transfer requirements, satisfactory progress requirements and the completion of mandatory NCAA forms. . . .

Further, the institution failed to cooperate adequately with the enforcement staff in the investigation of the violations. The institution continually missed deadlines for submitting reports and did not adequately communicate with the enforcement staff. It compromised the integrity of the investigation when it interviewed certain witnesses after being asked to refrain from doing so and then failed to inform the staff that the interviews had occurred. It insisted on conducting an investigation independent of the enforcement staff, but was over two and one-half years late in submitting its final self-reports.

Finally, two former administrators violated the principles of ethical conduct. The former director of athletics refused to answer certain questions in his interviews with the enforcement staff, and the former faculty athletics representative provided false and misleading information regarding his role in the student-athlete certification process. . . .

88 student-athletes were permitted to practice and/or compete while academically ineligible. These student-athletes were ineligible for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, failing to meet initial-eligibility requirements, failing to meet progress-toward-degree requirements, failing to meet two-year transfer requirements, failing to meet four-year transfer requirements and/or failing to satisfy the minimum 12- credit-hour requirement. The number of student-athletes per sport were as follows: men's basketball (26); women's basketball (seven); men's cross country (five); women's cross country (four); men's soccer (28); men's tennis (four); women's tennis (five) and women's volleyball (nine). . . .

When interviewed as part of the investigation, the former faculty athletics representative asserted that he played an integral role in the eligibility certification process. He claimed that every year he formulated an independent eligibility checklist while conducting a thorough analysis of the eligibility status of each student-athlete. None of the individuals interviewed, who were integral to the academic certification process for student-athletes, corroborated the former faculty athletics representative's account of his role. . . .

The penalties adopted and imposed by the committee are as follows: . . .

2. Five years of probation commencing on October 29, 2008, and running through
October 28, 2013. (The institution proposed a four-year term of probation.)

3. Cancellation of the seasons of competition in the following sports during the
academic years noted: men's basketball (2004-05), women's basketball (2004-05),
men's tennis (2004-05), women's tennis (2004-05), men's cross country (2005-06)
and women's cross country (2005-06). (Institution imposed.) . . .

5. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaws and, vacation of all contests
from the academic years 2000-01 through 2003-04 in which student-athletes
competed while ineligible. . . .

9. None of the institution's athletics teams shall be eligible for postseason competition during the 2009-10 academic year. But for the institution's substantial self- imposed penalties, including the cancellation of the competition seasons for various sports, this post-season ban would have been imposed for two academic
If only the NCAA would unload similarly on big-money Division I schools, but I digress. I held off on posting until I could get official comment from UDC:
In response to the report, President Sessoms, who assumed the reigns at UDC just two months ago declares, “UDC understands and accepts today’s ruling by the NCAA Infractions Committee.” Sessoms further states, “The penalties proposed in the Committee’s report are consistent with our own recommendations and what we have already self-imposed. We understand that during the years 2000-2001 through 2003-2004 UDC failed to effectively carry out its responsibilities and obligations as a Division II member institution. UDC regrets that the violations occurred. The University has already taken proactive steps to ensure future compliance with all NCAA regulations.”
There is, however, one proactive step that UDC has not taken. The NCAA report also notes:
This case once again highlights the difficulty in one person serving as athletic director and the head coach of a sport. The committee believes that if an institution is committed to participation as a member of Division II, it should be willing to commit adequate resources for athletic administration, including a fulltime athletic director and compliance officer.
The acting Athletics Director at UDC is the head basketball coach, Julius Smith (who, it should be noted, arrived after the violations occurred). Lets hope that president Sessoms follows the NCAA's lead on this point.

No comments: