The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions has placed Morehouse College on probation for five years for violations of NCAA bylaws relating to amateurism, eligibility, financial aid and clearinghouse certification in the men's soccer program. The committee found a lack of institutional control and a failure to monitor the men's soccer program.
The committee accepted the university's self-imposed penalty to disband the men's soccer program and required that the institution continue with its suspension of the program for at least three additional years, concluding with the end of the 2005-06 academic year.
The case was adjudicated using the summary-disposition process, which is a cooperative endeavor that may be used when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution and involved individuals agree on the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations of NCAA legislation. Once an agreement has been reached between the involved parties and the enforcement staff, the committee reviews the case through the written record, avoiding the need for a formal hearing before the committee.
The committee found that during the 1999-00 and 2000-01 academic years the institution permitted professional athletes to practice, compete and receive financial aid as members of the institution's men's soccer team. Those student-athletes were permitted to compete without meeting admissions and eligibility requirements for transfer student-athletes, and while under contract with professional soccer teams. Also, from 1998 through 2002, the institution failed to properly administer and retain executed copies of the NCAA Student-Athlete Forms. As a result, the institution failed to adequately monitor the prior athletics history of its soccer student-athletes, leading to two student-athletes who had previously signed professional contracts participating for the institution.
The committee further noted that there were many irregularities in the admissions applications for two of the student-athletes who were originally from Nigeria, and both were permitted to enroll in the institution on the former head coach's recommendation without academic transcripts and as exceptions to the institution's general admissions policy.
The committee ultimately found that the institution demonstrated both a failure to adequately monitor its soccer program and also a lack of appropriate institutional control. Specifically, the committee cited the violations detailed above and also noted that:
During spring 2000, the vice-president of campus operations and the director of athletics obtained information that professional soccer athletes had participated on the institution's men's soccer team, but they failed to conduct a timely investigation into the allegation. Subsequently, two professional soccer players participated as members of the institution's soccer team during the 2000-01 academic year.
The institution failed to monitor the certification of eligibility and the financial aid for the soccer program during the first two years of the team's existence. During the 1998-99 and 1999-00 academic years, the institution permitted student-athletes to practice, compete and/or receive financial aid without meeting the eligibility requirements for transfer student-athletes. During the 1998-99 and 1999-00 academic years, at least 16 student-athletes participated in practice, competition and/or received athletics financial aid before receiving final certification from the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. The committee found that those violations were directly attributable to the institution permitting the men's soccer program to be operated independently from the athletics department.
The institution failed to adequately supervise and monitor the former head men's soccer coach. The committee noted that the institution bears the ultimate responsibility for the actions of its former head coach.
During the 2002-03 academic years, the new head soccer coach allowed a non-certified student-athlete to participate as a member of the soccer team.
In determining the appropriate penalties to impose, the committee considered the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. The university initially restricted the men's soccer program's off-campus recruiting, reduced the financial aid awards available for the program, and then imposed three years of probation on the program. After the discovery of new violations in the program, the university disbanded it in spring 2003.
The committee accepted the institution's decision to suspend its men's soccer program, and it also concluded that based on the seriousness of the violations, additional penalties were warranted. The committee imposed the following penalties:
Public reprimand and censure.
Five years of probation, beginning November 5, 2003.
The institution shall continue with its suspension of the men's soccer program for at least three more academic years, concluding with the end of the 2005-06 academic year.
The institution shall bar the former head men's soccer coach from involvement with any intercollegiate athletics program at the institution for the period of the institution's probation. (The former head coach is a member of the university's academic faculty.)
Each year during the period of probation, the institution shall send the faculty athletics representative and the director of compliance to an NCAA Regional Compliance Seminar.
The committee required that during the probationary period, the university shall continue to develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation and submit periodic reports to the NCAA. The university also is required to submit, to the director of the NCAA Committees on Infractions a preliminary report that sets forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program. The institution also must file annual compliance reports indicating progress made with the program, placing particular emphasis on adherence to NCAA legislation relating to amateurism and financial aid and instituting proper administrative procedures for certifying the initial- and continuing-eligibility of student-athletes, particularly foreign student-athletes. The reports also must include documentation of the university's compliance with the penalties adopted and imposed by the committee.
At the end of the probationary period, the university's president will provide a letter to the committee affirming that the university's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.
Within 30 days of receipt of the infractions report, the institution's chief executive officer shall contact the NCAA's membership services staff in writing and formally request a Compliance Blueprint Program review. Documentation of this request shall be included in the institution's preliminary compliance report, with results of the review to be included in the institution's annual compliance reports.
As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, Morehouse is subject to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124, concerning repeat violators, for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case (November 5, 2003).
The members of the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case are: Julie Hill, committee chair and assistant athletics director, University of Northern Colorado; Robertha Abney, associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator, Slippery Rock University; Larry Blumberg, professor of mathematics and statistics, Washburn University of Topeka; Les Brinson, professor of psychology, North Carolina Central University; and James Park Jr., attorney, Lexington, Kentucky.