INDIANAPOLIS --- The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee has upheld a four-year probation penalty against the University of Georgia following the institution�s appeal of an August 2004 decision by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.
However, the Infractions Appeals Committee vacated the reduction of one basketball grant-in-aid for each of the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years. The institution appealed only these two penalties and did not appeal any of its findings of violation.
In a separate appeal from the same case, the committee affirmed five findings of violations committed by the university�s former assistant men�s basketball coach and upheld the seven-year show-cause order against the former assistant men's basketball coach. The Infractions Appeals Committee vacated one finding of violation but determined the reversal did not warrant a reduction of the show-cause order.
The Infractions Appeals Committee, which is made up of four representatives from NCAA member institutions and one member of the public, hears appeals of decisions by the Committee on Infractions. Any institution or individual found to be involved in a violation of NCAA bylaws may appeal the Committee on Infractions� decision. The two committees comprise different members and are independent of one another.
The Georgia case involved actions by the former assistant men�s basketball coach that were found to violate bylaws regarding recruiting inducements, unethical conduct, academic fraud and extra benefits in the men�s basketball program.
The Committee on Infractions determined that the former assistant men's basketball coach had transferred $300 to a prospective student-athlete, which was determined to be an impermissible recruiting inducement. The Committee on Infractions also determined that the former assistant men's basketball coach did so knowing it was in violation of bylaws, resulting in a finding of unethical conduct.
In a separate matter, the Committee on Infractions determined that the former assistant men's basketball coach committed academic fraud and engaged in unethical conduct for activities related to a basketball coaching class taught by the former assistant men's basketball coach. The activity also was determined to be an impermissible extra benefit.
Specifically, the Committee on Infractions found the former assistant men's basketball coach gave As for the course to three men�s basketball student-athletes who did not earn the grades and later encouraged the student-athletes to give misleading information to investigators.
The former assistant men's basketball coach and the institution filed separate appeals of different portions of the Committee on Infractions� findings and penalties. The former assistant men's basketball coach appealed all of the violations against him and sought a reduced penalty. The institution did not appeal any violations but sought a lesser penalty.
The Infractions Appeals Committee affirmed all of the findings against the former assistant men's basketball coach other than the impermissible extra-benefit violation. The Infractions Appeals Committee determined that there was no way to assess whether the other students in the class engaged in any more course-related activities than did the student-athletes.
Despite vacating the extra-benefit violation, the Infractions Appeals Committee did not reduce the seven-year show-cause order, which requires any NCAA member institution seeking to employ the former assistant men's basketball coach to appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine whether the individual's athletically related duties should be limited for a designated period of time.
"Given the serious violations affirmed above, we find that the seven-year show-cause order was neither excessive nor inappropriate,� the appeals committee�s report states.
The institution contended in its appeal that the penalties of four years of probation and the loss of one basketball scholarship for three years were excessive and inappropriate.
The Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the probation but reversed the financial aid reduction because of actions already taken by Georgia prior to the announcement of NCAA penalties. As the investigation into possible violations was underway in spring 2003, the institution allowed prospective basketball student-athletes who had signed National Letters of Intent to be released from their commitments. The result was the loss of four prospective student-athletes at a time when the university was unlikely to replace them.
"As a result, during the 2003-04 academic year, Georgia had only seven men�s basketball student-athletes on scholarship. Thus, the university�s decision in spring 2003 to release the prospects constituted a powerful self-imposed penalty that seriously affected its men�s basketball program,� the report states.
The Infractions Appeals Committee determined that additional reductions in grants-in-aid were inappropriate.
The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee are Christopher Griffin, attorney, Foley & Lardner legal firm; William Hoye, associate vice president and deputy general counsel, University of Notre Dame; Terry Don Phillips, director of athletics, Clemson University; Noel M. Ragsdale, professor of law, University of Southern California; and Allan A. Ryan Jr., Harvard Business School Publishing.