INDIANAPOLIS --- The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed California State University, Fresno on four years probation for recruiting violations and lack of institutional control and penalized a former head coach for impermissible phone calls made by him and his staff to prospective student-athletes. The committee also adopted a number of the institution's self-imposed penalties.
The Committee on Infractions consists of conference and institutional athletics administrators, faculty and a member of the public. The committee independently adjudicates cases investigated by the NCAA enforcement staff and determines appropriate penalties. The committee's findings may be appealed to the Infractions Appeals Committee.
The institution is a repeat violator, having appeared before the committee in December 2002 and June 2003 as a result of rules violations under a previous coach. The former head coach involved in this case had just been hired by the institution at that time and was present for those hearings. The committee said the former head coach was already engaged in willful rules violations as those hearings took place.
The former head coach was given a three-year show cause penalty, meaning that should he seek athletically related employment with another NCAA institution, he and the hiring institution must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine whether his duties should be limited.
This case involved 457 impermissible phone calls with prospective student-athletes made by the former head coach and his staff from April 2002 through October 2004. The committee noted that 73 impermissible calls were made to a single prospect and 57 to another.
"The matter of excessive telephone calls to prospects is a serious student-athlete welfare issue," said Gene Marsh, Committee on Infractions chair and professor of law at the University of Alabama. "The calls that were made seriously impact the amount of time prospects had for their high school classes, other activities and free time. In addition, these calls created a significant recruiting advantage for the institution."
To highlight the effects of these calls on prospects, the committee's report points out that had just 20 of the 326 Division I coaches engaged in a similar calling pattern as the Fresno State staff, one particular student-athlete would have received 1,092 calls over a five-month period.
Specifically, calls were made to prospects prior to June 21 of their junior year in high school, the first date recruiters may contact prospects in men's basketball. In addition, on many occasions, more than one call per week was made in violation of NCAA bylaws.
Impermissible contact was also made with a student-athlete at another four-year institution. NCAA bylaws require recruiters to get permission from the institution where a student-athlete is enrolled before recruiting.
The committee determined that the scope and nature of the findings demonstrated a lack of institutional control by the university and a failure to monitor on the part of the former head coach.
The investigation also uncovered a number of secondary violations in men's basketball that were adopted by the committee. In determining appropriate penalties against the institution, the committee considered the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions, the fact that it is a repeat violator and the institution's and coaches' cooperation with the investigation.
In addition to probation, which will last until April 25, 2010, and the show cause penalty against the former head coach, the penalties include:
- Public reprimand and censure;
- The men's basketball team did not participate in postseason play during the 2005-06 season (university imposed);
- Official recruiting visits for men's basketball were reduced from 12 to six during the 2005-06 academic year (university imposed); and
- Men's basketball has a 33 percent reduction of its recruiting-day limitation (from 130 to 86 days) for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic years (university imposed).
In addition to Marsh, the members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case were: Paul T. Dee, director of athletics, University of Miami (Florida), Edward Leland, vice president for advancement, University of the Pacific; Andrea L. Myers, director of athletics emeritus, Indiana State University; James Park Jr., attorney, Lexington, Kentucky; and Josephine R. Potuto, faculty athletics representative and professor of law, University of Nebraska.