INDIANAPOLIS --- The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed Ohio State University on three years probation and penalized the former head coach and a former assistant coach for violations in the sport of men's basketball.
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.
In this case, the committee imposed a five-year show cause penalty against the former head men's basketball coach, who has been terminated by the institution. Should the former head coach 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.
The former assistant coach, who is now a head coach at another NCAA Division I institution, is prohibited by the Committee on Infractions from recruiting until October 1, 2007. If his current institution does not enforce this prohibition, the committee would require the institution to appear before the committee and show cause why additional penalties should not be imposed against that institution.
The case centers on recruiting inducements and extra benefits provided to two international prospective student-athletes. While one prospect ("prospect A") was declared ineligible and never enrolled at Ohio State, the other ("prospect B") continued to receive extra benefits and impermissible academic assistance from boosters after enrollment.
The committee found that the former head coach, in consultation with the former assistant coach, provided $6,000 in cash to assist prospect A's family in Yugoslavia. The money was provided by the former head coach to the former assistant coach for delivery to the family.
According to the committee's March 10 public infractions report, the coaches argued that the payment was not an impermissible recruiting inducement because the prospect was ineligible due to participation in a professional basketball league. The committee noted, however, that he was still a prospect because his eligibility was pending.
"The $6,000 payment was a blatant violation," said committee vice chair Josephine Potuto, faculty athletics representative and a professor of law at the University of Nebraska. "The circumstances surrounding this violation are especially troubling because the former coaches concealed the cash payment from administrators at the institution for over five years."
The coaches also argued that the violation fell outside the four-year statute of limitations outlined in NCAA bylaws. However, the committee noted that the bylaws also contain exceptions for cases involving a pattern of willful violations or a blatant disregard of NCAA bylaws.
The committee found that prospect A also received a number of benefits from a representative of athletics interests, or booster, including cash, lodging, meals and clothing.
The same booster provided prospect B, who went on to compete at Ohio State for four years, with lodging, meals, clothing, merchandise, cash and transportation prior to his enrollment. The committee determined that both former coaches were aware prospect B was in Columbus and living with the booster and that the former assistant helped arranged prospect B's housing.
Upon prospect B's enrollment, the booster continued to provide cash, assisted with a number of expenses and paid for merchandise. Prospect B also received impermissible academic assistance after he enrolled at Ohio State when the booster wrote academic papers for the student-athlete, the result of which was the committee's finding of academic fraud against prospect B.
The institution has since disassociated itself from the booster, a decision adopted by the Committee on Infractions.
For their role in making a cash payment to prospect A, knowledge and involvement in impermissible benefits being provided to prospect B and failure to be forthcoming with information, the former head coach and former assistant were found by the committee in violation of the principles of ethical conduct.
"Of particular concern to the committee was the pattern by both former coaches of failing to provide critical information in a timely fashion to the institution as well as providing such information only when clear that it otherwise would become known," Potuto said.
The committee also found that the scope and nature of the violations constituted a failure of the institution and former head coach to monitor the men's basketball program.
This case also involved incidents involving student-athletes participating in the sports of women's basketball and football.
Specifically, a local Columbus orthodontist, who was a representative of athletics interests, provided $13,760 in extra benefits to five women's basketball student-athletes in the form of cost-free or discounted orthodontic care. A football student-athlete received a $500 cash advance from a representative of athletics interest for work he never performed at a local health care facility.
The committee adopted a number of penalties that were self-imposed by the institution, which the committee described as "meaningful and appropriate" in its public infractions report. The full list of penalties is as follows, with self-imposed penalties noted:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Three years probation from March 10, 2006, through March 9, 2009.
- The institution's men's basketball team was withheld from postseason competition following the 2004-05 season. (University self-imposed)
- The former head coach was terminated by Ohio State on June 8, 2004. (University self-imposed)
- The number of financial aid awards in men's basketball was reduced from 13 to 11 during the 2005-06 season. (University self-imposed)
- The number of expense-paid visits recruits may make to the campus is limited to three during the 2006-07 academic year. This is a reduction of one from the average of four visits per year during the last four years.
- The football student-athlete was withheld from a 2004 bowl game (University self-imposed). He was also withheld from the first game of the 2005 season when he went through the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement process.
- The institution must reimburse monies received for participation in the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
- The NCAA tournament records of the men's basketball team and individual record of the ineligible student-athlete are vacated for the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 tournaments.
- A copy of this report will be sent to the institution's regional accrediting agency.
- The institution disassociated itself from five representatives of athletics interest in 2005. (University self-imposed)
- The former head coach was given a five-year show cause penalty until March 9, 2011.
- The former assistant coach was given a show cause penalty until October 1, 2007.
The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case were: Paul T. Dee, director of athletics, University of Miami (Florida), Richard J. Dunn, professor of english, University of Washington; Alfred Lechner, Jr., vice-president, Tyco International US) Inc., Princeton, New Jersey; Edward Leland, vice president for advancement, University of the Pacific; Andrea L. Myers, director of athletics, Indiana State University; Josephine R. Potuto, faculty athletics representative and professor of law, University of Nebraska; and Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association.