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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Sam Houston State University

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Written by Christian Dennie   
Monday, 26 June 2017 19:13

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel”) recently issued its findings and found that Sam Houston State University (“SHSU” or “Institution”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.  The case involved the women's tennis program at SHSU and centered primarily on recruiting and extra benefits violations by the former head women's tennis coach. The Panel considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process in which all participating parties agreed to the primary facts and violations, as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). The Panel proposed additional penalties to the Institution and the former head coach. The Institution agreed to the proposed penalties and therefore has no opportunity to appeal. The former head coach did not respond to the Panel's letter notifying him of the proposed penalties. Accordingly, he also has no opportunity to appeal.

The former head coach disregarded NCAA legislation and engaged in three categories of impermissible conduct in the course of his efforts to recruit and assist a women's tennis student-athlete who transferred to the institution in 2015. First, the former head coach engaged in impermissible recruiting contacts with the student-athlete while she was still enrolled at her previous institution. Second, the former head coach provided impermissible recruiting inducements to the student-athlete, including new tennis rackets and summer tournament entry fees. Third, after the student-athlete enrolled at the Institution, the former head coach provided her with impermissible benefits, which included arranging for her to live with a local family cost-free and paying her to restring tennis rackets in violation of the Institution's employment policy. The former head coach's conduct violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation and demonstrated a lax attitude toward compliance that was inconsistent with his responsibilities as a head coach. Finally, and unrelated to the former head coach's violations, a representative of the institution's athletics interests provided cost-free housing to the student-athlete after she left the tennis team. The athletics representative's conduct violated NCAA extra benefits legislation. The Panel concluded that all violations in this case are Level II.

The Committee concluded that SHSU committed the following violations:

Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.1.1.3 (2014-15) and 13.1.3.5.2 (2015-16) (Level II)

The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that during the spring of 2015, the former head coach engaged in impermissible recruiting contact with a women's tennis student-athlete from another institution, student-athlete 1, without first obtaining written permission from the NCAA institution. Additionally, during the spring of 2016, the former head coach arranged for two women's tennis student-athletes to make impermissible contact with four prospective student-athletes.

From April 20 through April 27, 2015, the former head coach engaged in impermissible contact with student-athlete 1 when he sent at least 31 Facebook messages prior to obtaining written permission from student-athlete 1's NCAA institution. NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 (2014-15).

During the spring of 2016, the former head coach arranged for a women's tennis student-athlete (student-athlete 2) to have impermissible contact with women's tennis prospective student-athletes (prospect 1) and (prospect 2) via Facebook prior to the prospective student-athletes signing a National Letter of Intent. Additionally, the former head coach arranged for student-athlete 2 and (student-athlete 3) to have impermissible contact with two unnamed prospective student-athletes via Skype prior to the prospective student-athletes signing National Letters of Intent. NCAA Bylaw 13.1.3.5.2 (2015-16).

Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(b), 13.2.1.1-(g), 13.2.1.1-(h) and 13.5.1 (2014-15); 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(e) and 16.11.2.1 (2015-16) (Level II)

The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that beginning in the summer of 2015, the former head coach provided and arranged for the provision of approximately $607.00 in impermissible recruiting inducements to student-athlete 1. Additionally, the former head coach arranged for the provision of approximately $560.00 in impermissible benefits for student-athlete 1 when she enrolled at the Institution in the fall of 2015 and became a women's tennis student-athlete. The total value of the impermissible benefits was approximately $1,167.

On June 4, 2015, the former head coach purchased two tennis rackets for student-athlete 1 and provided them to her at no cost. The value of the impermissible recruiting inducement was approximately $300. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(b) (2014-15).

On July 9, 2015, the former head coach paid for student-athlete 1's Intercollegiate Tennis Association (“ITA”) membership. Additionally, on July 9 and 14, 2015, the former head coach paid student-athlete 1's entry fees for her participation in two ITA tournaments. Further, the former head coach arranged for the parent of another prospective student-athlete to provide student-athlete 1 a ride to and from one of the tournaments. The value of the impermissible recruiting inducements was approximately $237.00. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(g) and 13.5.1 (2014-15).

Between August 10 and October 1, 2015, the former head coach, contrary to the institution's policy, paid student-athlete 1 to restring tennis rackets for approximately $10.00 per racket. Student-athlete 1 restrung at least one racket on approximately 13 occasions before and after she enrolled at the Institution. The value of the impermissible recruiting inducement and benefit was approximately $130.00. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(e) and 16.11.2.1 (2015-16).

In August 2015, the former head coach and the athletics representative arranged for a local family to permit student-athlete 1 to stay at their personal residence at no cost. Student-athlete 1 resided with the family before and after she enrolled at the Institution for approximately two and a half months. The value of the impermissible recruiting inducement and benefit was approximately $500.00. NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(h) and 16.11.2.1 (2015-16).

Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 16.11.2.1 (2015-16) (Level II)

The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from mid-November to December 11, 2015, the athletics representative provided impermissible benefits in the form of cost-free housing to student-athlete 1. Specifically, after student-athlete 1 quit the women's tennis team and remained enrolled at the Institution, the athletics representative permitted student-athlete 1 to stay at her personal residence at no cost. The value of the impermissible benefit was approximately $200.00.

Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(c) and 11.1.1.1 (2014-15 and 2015-16) (Level II)

The Institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from the summer through the fall of 2015, the former head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly provided and arranged for the provision of impermissible recruiting inducements and impermissible benefits detailed above. Additionally, the former head coach is presumed responsible for the violations detailed in Violation Nos. 1 and 3 and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the former head coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance due to his personal involvement in the violations.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4

Aggravating Factors for the Institution

(a) Multiple Level II violations by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).

(b) Person of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation(s) or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).

 

Mitigating Factors for the Institution

(a) Prompt self-detection and self-disclosure of the violation(s). NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(a).

(b) Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).

(c) An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations.  NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(d).

(d) Other facts warranting a lower penalty range. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(h).

 

Aggravating Factors for the Former Head Coach

(a) Unethical conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(e).

(b) Multiple Level II violations by the involved individual. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).

(c) Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation(s) or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).

(d) Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution and bylaws. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(m).

 

Mitigating Factors for the Former Head Coach

None.

As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized SHSU as follows:

1.  The Institution shall pay a $5,000 fine.

2.  The Institution reduced the total number of athletically related financial aid awards in women's tennis by one award during the 2016-17 academic year.

3.  The Institution shall prohibit the women's tennis staff from engaging in recruiting communications (including written, telephonic and electronic correspondence) with prospective student-athletes and their families for a period of two consecutive weeks during the spring 2018 semester.

4.  The former head coach was informed in writing by the NCAA that the Panel prescribed a three-year show-cause order pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.5.5.

Head coach restriction: As part of this show-cause order, and pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.5.5, should the former head coach become employed in an athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during the three-year show-cause period, the former head coach shall be suspended from 30 percent of the first season of his employment. During the period of suspension, the former head coach is prohibited from performing all coaching and recruiting activities and may not have any contact with members of his tennis staff, student-athletes and prospective student-athletes.

5.  The Institution shall disassociate the athletics representative for a period of two years. During the disassociation period: (a) the Institution shall not allow the representative to participate in any organization recognized by the institution as a supporter of the institution's athletics program; (b) the Institution shall not allow the representative to provide benefits (including employment) to any prospective or enrolled student-athletes; (c) the Institution shall not allow the representative to make any financial or gift-in-kind contribution for support of the institution's athletics program; and (d) the Institution shall not allow the representative to receive any privilege associated with the Institution's athletics program that is not available to the general public.

For any questions, feel free to contact Christian Dennie at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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