INDIANAPOLIS—The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee partially upheld a failure to monitor violation while reversing a vacation of records penalty imposed last summer against the University of Oklahoma.
The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released its finding regarding the university’s football program July 11, 2007. It determined that three football student-athletes received payment for work not performed at a Norman, Oklahoma automobile dealership. The impermissible benefits totaled approximately $17,000 in unearned wages and led to the committee’s finding that the university failed to monitor the employment of football student-athletes. The seriousness of the case was magnified by the fact that two student-athletes competed while ineligible during the entire 2005 football season.
During the infractions appeals process, Oklahoma challenged the failure to monitor finding. The university said it believed the Committee on Infractions’ findings were contrary to the evidence presented; the facts found by the committee did not constitute a violation of NCAA rules; and a procedural error affected the reliability of the information that was used to support the committee’s findings.
In considering the Oklahoma appeal, the Infractions Appeals Committee reviewed the notice of appeal; the transcript of the hearing before the Committee on Infractions; the appeal documents filed by Oklahoma and the Committee on Infractions’ responses.
While the university raised several points in support of its contention that the failure to monitor findings should be reversed, the Infractions Appeals Committee found that these points did not justify a complete reversal. However, the Infractions Appeals Committee did reverse a portion of the failure to monitor finding. Specifically, the committee found, as did the Committee on Infractions, that the university failed to follow established institutional procedures for monitoring student-athletes’ employment when it did not collect in a timely fashion gross earnings statements for 12 football student-athletes during the 2005 summer vacation period. However, the Infractions Appeals Committee overturned the findings of violation that the university failed to detect that football student-athletes worked at the auto dealership during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years. The committee reasoned that failure to detect the employment of a student-athlete would not in itself constitute a separate violation of NCAA legislation.
When considering the vacation of the 2005 football records, the Infractions Appeals Committee determined that the university’s cooperation was a significant factor in the ultimate determination of the violations. The Infractions Appeals Committee stated that the Committee on Infractions report did not acknowledge or discuss the nature or extent of the institution’s cooperation, nor specify what weight, if any, was given to that cooperation. Therefore, the Infractions Appeals Committee found that vacation of the records was inappropriate and that penalty was overturned.
The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee who heard this case were: Christopher L. Griffin, Foley & Lardner LLP, chair; Susan Cross Lipnickey, Miami University (Ohio); Noel M. Ragsdale, University of Southern California; Allan A. Ryan Jr., Harvard University; and David Williams, Vanderbilt University.