INDIANAPOLIS --- The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed Baylor University on probation for five years and barred its men's basketball team from non-conference basketball competition for one year following widespread rules violations.
The committee's findings include intentional violations committed by members of the basketball coaching staff and attempts to cover up those violations by providing inaccurate information and falsifying documents, all of which resulted in findings of unethical conduct against the former head coach and three former assistant coaches.
"The coaches' disregard for NCAA rules has tarnished them, the university and intercollegiate athletics as a whole," said Gene Marsh, chair of the Division I Committee on Infractions and a professor of law at the University of Alabama.
The committee's findings, made public in the Public Infractions Report released June 23, 2005, include impermissible benefits and financial assistance totaling tens of thousands of dollars paid to student-athletes and prospects; impermissible recruiting inducements, contacts and tryouts involving prospects; more than $100,000 in impermissible donations funneled to amateur teams comprising prospects; and failure to follow procedures for reporting banned drug use.
These violations resulted in findings against Baylor of lack of institutional control and failure to monitor its athletics program.
The committee's report reveals that a number of the violations stem from the former head coach's recruitment of a number of academically marginal players and the recruitment of some additional prospects as "insurance" in the event some recruits were academically ineligible.
The result was seven prospects enrolling at Baylor when the institution had only five available scholarships. The committee determined that the two student-athletes who did not receive institutionally-administered athletic financial aid received more than $30,000 in the form of tuition payments, cash and other benefits from the former head coach and three former assistant coaches.
According to the report, the former head coach, with the assistance of two former assistant coaches, attempted to cover up these impermissible payments following the tragic death of one of the two student-athletes. The former head coach attempted to convince other team members to portray the deceased student-athlete as a drug dealer as a way to explain how he paid his tuition. He provided them with tape recorders so they could rehearse their interviews prior to meeting with university investigators.
The former head coach asked the other student-athlete receiving the extra benefits to lie to university investigators. He worked with the student-athlete's mother to create a false statement and he falsified financial records to cover up his payment of tuition bills.
The report states that at Baylor's infractions hearing, the former head coach described his actions as "despicable." The former assistant coaches said they committed violations and the subsequent cover-up out of loyalty to the former head coach.
"The former assistant coaches' loyalty was destructive to their own careers, the student-athletes entrusted to their care and the institution that employed them," Marsh said of the most egregious of a long list of findings against the former head coach and former assistant coaches.
The committee also found other instances of student-athletes and prospects receiving impermissible benefits in the form of cost-free travel, meals, housing, cash, merchandise and basketball tickets. There were also cases of the coaching staff arranging for one student-athlete to receive special treatment from a car dealer and another to receive free legal representation.
In addition, the committee found that the former head coach solicited donations from boosters and funneled more than $87,000 to the Houston Superstars Foundation, a Texas Amateur Athletic Union (AAU); $1,050 to the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, a Waco, Texas-based summer basketball team; and $28,600 to five additional AAU teams. The donations were impermissible because prospective student-athletes were members of those teams. The donations were not disclosed as required on the NCAA Financial Disclosure Forms and should have been reported by a former assistant coach.
"He (the former assistant coach) did not consult the compliance director because he knew it was a 'gray area' and the former head coach made it clear that he did not want to hear that the contributions could not be made," Marsh said.
The committee also found that the institution failed to follow proper procedures when three student-athletes tested positive for marijuana use. Specifically, the athletics department failed to share the positive tests with the institution's judicial affairs office. The committee determined that the failure of the university to follow its own procedures demonstrated a lack of institutional control.
The committee reached a finding of unethical conduct against the former head coach for knowingly violating NCAA legislation and his attempts to conceal those violations by supplying false information to investigators and convincing others to do the same.
The committee has determined that the former head coach will be subject to the NCAA's show cause procedure for a 10-year period. As a result, any NCAA member institution that intends to employ the former head coach must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine whether the hiring institution must impose limitations upon his activities.
One former assistant coach will be subject to a seven-year show cause order. The other two former assistants each received five-year show cause orders.
The full list of penalties against the institution includes:
- The institution will be publicly reprimanded and censured.
- The university will remain on probation from June 23, 2005, through June 22, 2010. Baylor had self-imposed a three-year probation.
- During either the 2005-06 or 2006-07 academic years, Baylor must limit its basketball schedule to regular season Big XII games and the Big XII tournament. The institution was given flexibility on the timing of this penalty so that it could comply with existing contractual obligations.
- The committee adopted Baylor's self-imposed penalty of a ban on 2003-04 postseason basketball. It lost $212,500 in revenues by not participating in the Big XII tournament.
- The committee adopted Baylor's self-imposed financial aid reductions of four men's basketball scholarships in 2004-05 and one in 2005-06.
- The committee reduced the number of paid recruiting visits allowed from 12 to nine for the 2006-07 academic year. That is in addition to Baylor's self-imposed limits of eight in 2004-05 and nine in 2005-06.
- The number of contact days shall be reduced by five beginning in September 2004 through April 2007, which is one year more than what Baylor had self-imposed. Baylor also had 10 fewer evaluation days during the winter evaluation in 2004 and will have the same in 2005 and 2006.
- The number of coaches permitted to recruit off-campus was reduced from three to two during the 2004-05 academic year. The same limits will remain in 2005-06 and 2006-07, one year more than what Baylor self-imposed.
- Baylor self-imposed a one-game reduction in the number of permissible exhibition games during the 2004-05 season.
- The committee also noted as a self-imposed penalty Baylor's successful petition of the Big XII Conference and the NCAA to waive transfer rules for current basketball student-athletes. Three highly regarded student-athletes transferred from the institution and one prospect who had signed a National Letter of Intent decided not to enroll.
- The committee also noted that the former head coach resigned and his coaching staff was replaced.
In addition to Marsh, the members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case were Paul T. Dee, director of athletics, University of Miami (Florida); Alfred Lechner, Jr., vice-president, Tyco International (US) Inc., Princeton, New Jersey; Edward Leland, director of athletics, Stanford University; Andrea L. Myers, director of athletics, Indiana State University; James Park Jr., attorney, Lexington, Kentucky; and Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association.