NCAA News Archive - 2007

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Infractions case Ball State University

Oct 22, 2007 8:39:00 AM

The NCAA News

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized Ball State University for major violations in its athletics program, which included several student-athletes using nearly $27,000 in scholarship funds for books for other students through the university bookstore. The violations include a lack of institutional control, excessive financial aid and exceeding practice hour limitations.

Penalties for the violations include placing the university on probation for two years; reducing the number of football and men’s tennis scholarships; and reducing the maximum number of hours per week spent on countable athletically related activities for the softball team.

The case was resolved through the summary-disposition process rather than a formal hearing before the Committee on Infractions. Summary disposition is used when there is agreement among the university, the NCAA enforcement staff and involved parties regarding the facts of the case. The Committee on Infractions reviewed the agreement and the penalties recommended by the university.

From the 2003 spring semester through the 2004-05 academic year, 89 student-athletes in 10 sports impermissibly obtained a total value of $26,944 in textbooks through the book-loan program for scholarship student-athletes. The textbooks were obtained by the student-athletes for classes in which they were not enrolled or for classes in which student-athletes obtained multiple copies of the same book.

The violations resulted in the university exceeding its financial aid limits in football and men’s tennis for the 2004-05 academic year. Specifically, the football team exceeded its scholarship limit by three (for a total of 88) and men’s tennis exceeded its maximum equivalency limit by .02 (for a total of 4.52).

At the time the violations occurred, the university’s bookstore had a computerized system that placed a $1,000 per semester balance in the account of each student-athlete with a book scholarship. There was no system in place to check the class schedules of all student-athletes to ensure the books being obtained corresponded with the classes each student-athlete was taking. Receipts from the book store provided student-athletes with information on remaining account balances. Because of this, student-athletes whose class schedules did not require $1,000 worth of textbooks per semester realized they were able to use the remainder of their bookstore accounts to obtain books for friends and student-athletes who did not receive athletics aid.

An NCAA enforcement staff investigation also found that from 1999 through 2006 the then-head softball coach and the university’s softball program failed to count student-athletes’ work at camps, clinics and program fund-raising events as mandatory athletically related activities. The program repeatedly exceeded daily and weekly practice hour limitations, failed to give student-athletes a required day off each week from athletically related activities, and conducted individual skill instruction sessions in violation of NCAA rules.

Student-athletes were required to work at about four camps or clinics per year for periods ranging from three to 11 hours on a single day. The hours worked by the student-athletes were not reported on daily countable athletically related log sheets or factored into weekly practice hours totals. This resulted in student-athletes exceeding their 20-hour weekly limit by one to seven hours.

In addition, student-athletes were routinely required to engage in athletically related activities — including the work at camps and clinics, weight training and practice — on a designated day off from such activities.

The investigation also discovered that the softball coaches routinely required student-athletes to participate in extra sessions of individual skill instruction, causing them to exceed the two-hour weekly limit placed on individual skill sessions as well as the eight-hour weekly limit placed on countable athletically related activities outside the playing season. The university’s compliance staff also detected a problem with the number of student-athletes participating in skill instruction simultaneously.

While this activity was corrected, the violation was not reported to the NCAA. Further, the university received information in exit interviews with student-athletes that these violations might be occurring; however, it failed to act on the information.

The Committee on Infractions believed that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrated a failure to exercise institutional control in the conduct and administration of the book-loan and softball programs. It found that the university failed to establish adequate rules education to student-athletes and staff to ensure the use of athletics aid at the bookstore met NCAA regulations. Further, it was found that the university failed to monitor the distribution of textbooks and use of athletics aid at the bookstore. In addition, the university failed to monitor the activities of the softball program to ensure compliance with and detect violations of NCAA rules and it failed to investigate and report violations of NCAA legislation.

As this case came to the committee as a summary disposition, the following self-imposed penalties have been adopted:

Public reprimand and censure.

  • Two years of probation beginning October 16, 2007, and ending October 15, 2009
  • Between September 15, 2007, and April 15, 2008, and when the softball team is outside the declared playing season, there shall be no more than four student-athlete participants in any individual skill-related instruction sessions with the coach. Further, during the remainder of the 2006-07 academic year and in the 2007-08 academic year, no softball student-athlete may participate as a counselor, demonstrator and/or instructor in an university camp or clinic. Finally, during the remainder of the 2006-07 academic year and the entire 2007-08 academic year, the softball team shall be limited to a maximum of 18 hours per week of countable athletically related activities.
  • All members of the institution’s athletics compliance office, all athletics staff members with sports-administration responsibility and all individuals within the department of athletics with audit responsibility for textbooks shall attend an NCAA regional rules seminar before the probation ends. The university shall list in its annual reports the names of the individuals who attended the seminars and certify the sessions of the seminars attended by each individual.
  • The university shall reduce football scholarships by three during the two-year term of probation. It may choose to reduce all three scholarships in a single academic year or divide the reduction over the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. Further, the university shall reduce men’s tennis financial aid by .04 of one total scholarship during the 2008-09 academic year.
  • The university shall file a written report with the office of the Committee on Infractions by June 15, 2008, and enhanced program to better educate the staff and student-athletes on NCAA rules, including specifically those rules governing practice time limitations and countable athletically related activities, and those rules governing financial aid and extra benefits as they relate to the university’s book-loan program. Also, the reports will detail rules education measures taken with regard to personnel employed by the outside books vendor. In addition, the reports will address the means used by the university to monitor athletically related activities, particularly those activities of the softball program and the book-loan distribution and return process, and will report the results of the monitoring.
  • At the end of the probationary period, the university president shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the university’s current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA rules.
The Committee on Infractions consists of conference and institutional athletics administrators, faculty and members of the public. The committee independently rules on cases investigated by the NCAA enforcement staff and determines appropriate penalties.

The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case are Josephine Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law and chair of the committee; Paul Dee, director of athletics at the University of Miami (Florida), and formerly the university’s general counsel; Ted Leland, the vice president for advancement at the University of the Pacific, and formerly the director of athletics of, among others, Stanford University; Gene Marsh, James M. Kidd Sr. Professor of Law at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa School of Law; Andrea Meyers, athletics director emeritus, Indiana State University; and Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and formerly director of athletics at Hampton University.

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