UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS, FAYETTEVILLE PLACED ON THREE YEARS PROBATION
INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, on three years probation due to violations primarily centered around impermissible employment in Dallas of a number of men's basketball and football student-athletes. The case concerned violations of NCAA bylaws governing extra benefits, recruiting and financial aid.
The impermissible employment occurred at a trucking company and a material management service owned and primarily operated by a well-known representative of the university's athletics interests. The recruiting violations involved two student-athletes who were employed by the representative prior to, as well as after, their enrollment at the university. The financial aid violations resulted when wages earned by student-athletes from impermissible employment during the academic year were added to student-athletes' individual grant-in-aid totals, creating excesses beyond allowed limits. The extra benefit violations occurred when student-athletes were overcompensated, or paid for work not performed, at the businesses. The school was cited for a failure to monitor violation due to the number and circumstances of the employment violations. Finally, an additional major infraction was committed when improper salary supplements were provided to the institution's director of athletics training.
This is the institution's third major infractions case. The first occurred in 1964, which involved the football program; the second in 1997, involved the men's basketball program.
The representative of the university's athletics interests was a well-known donor to the department, who had donated more than $285,000 between 1987 and 2000. The representative had pledged to contribute an additional $300,000; of this amount, $225,000 was still outstanding at the time of this case, but was disavowed by the university as a consequence of his disassociation. The representative was afforded very favorable, and in some instances, unique treatment by the athletics department. For instance, he and his son were reportedly the only individuals with permanent passes for access to the sidelines and locker room at football games.
Information about the impermissible employment came to light December 30, 1999, in media reports. A newspaper story reported that in a minority shareholder lawsuit filed against the representative, it was alleged that the representative overpaid University of Arkansas, Fayetteville student-athletes who worked at the trucking company. These stories were published two days before the Cotton Bowl in which the university was to compete. One football student-athlete who was eligible to compete in the bowl game was identified. University officials interviewed that student-athlete and the representative at the time. After consulting with the Southeastern Conference office, the institution permitted the student-athlete to participate in the game.
After the bowl game, the conference, at the request of the university, investigated the matter and found a $100 check from the trucking company dated December 29, 1999, payable to the student-athlete identified in the media reports. The university reported this as compensation (overcompensation) for work performed between the bowl practices and game. The student-athlete identified in the media reports apparently had not mentioned this in the interview prior to the bowl game, although the interview was conducted a day or two after he was supposed to have worked for the trucking company. The university interviewers also did not learn until later, that as many as four other student-athletes also received $100 payments December 29, 1999.
The university prepared a self-report based on the findings of the conference investigation, and in July 2000, submitted the self-report to the NCAA enforcement staff and conference office. The report reflected the university's position at that time that these were secondary violations.
In December 2001, the enforcement staff issued a letter of preliminary inquiry. The enforcement staff and the university then jointly conducted interviews, and at the conclusion of the investigation, agreed to submit the case through the summary disposition process, a cooperative endeavor used when the enforcement staff, the member school and involved individuals agree on the facts of an infractions case, and agree the facts constitute major violations; however, the Committee on Infractions elected to hear the case in January 2003, to resolve questions about the circumstances of the violations.
Major violations of NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 15.1.1, 15.2.6, 188.8.131.52.1 and 184.108.40.206 concerning recruiting, financial aid, employment and extra benefits respectively were found. According to the infractions committee report, from the academic years 1994-95 to 1999-2000, at least 20 student-athletes either were paid for work not performed, or were overpaid for work performed by the trucking company. Two of the student-athletes also received impermissible wages prior to their enrollment while still prospective student-athletes.
Further, at least eight of these student-athletes were employed during the academic year in violation of employment bylaws either because the employment occurred at a time when NCAA legislation prohibited such employment, or when permitted, because the employment failed to meet a number of applicable criteria. In consequence, the wages of these student-athletes should have been included in their grant-in-aid computations, resulting in financial aid in excess of grant-in-aid limits.
The committee found a major violation of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 concerning supplemental pay provisions. According to the report, between 1994 and 1999, the representative along with three other representatives of the university's athletics interests provided the athletics trainer approximately $21,100 through one-time or occasional payments. This occurred after his university salary was reduced due to his involvement in a criminal misdemeanor violation resulting from his failure to make and retain appropriate records for storing and dispensing prescription drugs to student-athletes. The representative provided $19,100; a second representative, a team orthopedic physician responsible for keeping prescription drug records, provided $900; a third representative, a team orthopedic consultant, provided $1,000; and the fourth representative provided $100. Neither the trainer nor the representatives informed the university of these payments.
Finally, a major violation was determined concerning failure to monitor concerning NCAA Bylaws 2.8.1 and 18.104.22.168. According to the report, in the academic years 1994-95 to 1999-2000, the university had in place a program for monitoring student-athlete employment. Nonetheless, the university failed to detect that the representative paid student-athletes for work not performed, or in excess of the going rate for work performed at the trucking company. Further, the university failed to detect that student-athletes were employed by the representative in academic years 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Annually, from academic years 1994-95 to 1997-98, the university mailed to the trucking company a copy of NCAA rules regarding employment and a summer employment form to be completed by the company. Among other things, the trucking company was asked to certify its understanding of NCAA employment rules; to identify student-athletes employed by the company, rate of pay, and type of work; and to designate an employer contact person. Although the trucking company submitted forms in academic years 1996-97 and 1997-98 with regard to the student-athlete mentioned in the initial media reports, the company failed to report employing other student-athletes. In academic years 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the university did not send employment forms to the trucking company and the trucking company did not report the employment of student-athletes.
In addition, a secondary violation of NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124 was found. This concerned two student-athletes who received gasoline from the trucking company's gasoline storage tank on one or two occasions. Although company policy permitted full-time employees to receive a weekly tank of gasoline for their personal vehicles, this policy did not extend to those in the employment category that included student-athletes.
In determining the appropriate penalties to impose, the committee considered the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. [Note: the institution's corrective actions are contained in Appendix Two of the infractions committee report. This report is available at http://www.ncaa.org/releases/infractions/2003041701in.htm.]
The university self-imposed the following penalties, which the committee adopted:
Disassociated the representative, his businesses, and members of his family effective May 12, 2000, until at least May 12, 2007, from any involvement with the athletics department, including a ban on employment of any of the university's student-athletes.
Forfeited the remaining $225,000 of a $300,000 pledge made by the representative toward the renovation of the Broyles Center. Two payments of $25,000 and $50,000 in fulfillment of his pledge had previously been made.
Withheld a football student-athlete from competing or traveling with the team for the first football game of the 2000 season and required him to reimburse $85 to a charity and perform 30 hours of community service.
Reduced the number of initial grants-in-aid in the sport of football by three during the 2001-02 academic year, two during the 2002-03 academic year, two during the 2003-04 academic year; and one during the 2004-05 academic year.
Reduced the number of total grants-in-aid in football by two for the 2001-02 academic year; two for the 2002-03 academic year; two for the 2003-04 academic year; and two for 2004-05 academic year.
Reduced the number of total grants-in-aid in the sport of men's basketball by one during the 2003-04 academic year.
Reduced the number of official visits in men's basketball from 12 to eight during the 2002-03 academic year. (Note: The institution averaged eight official visits during the prior four academic years.)
Although the university was subject to the repeat violator penalties of NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 for major violations committed between April 1997 and December 31, 1999, the committee did not impose these penalties. This was, in large part, because the violations committed in the 1997 case were described in that report as "technical and inadvertent," and in fact, did not impose a probationary period.
Further, in the current case, the Committee on Infractions said the university imposed appropriate corrective measures and self-imposed some meaningful penalties after the university and conference completed an investigation. Nonetheless, given the serious and repeat nature of these violations and the involvement of a prominent athletic representative, the committee concluded that additional penalties were warranted.
Additional penalties imposed by the committee include:
The university shall be publicly reprimanded and censured.
The university shall be placed on three years of probation beginning April 17, 2003, and concluding April 16, 2006.
In addition to its self-imposed reduction of total grants-in-aid in football through the 2004-05 academic year, the university shall also reduce total football grants-in-aid by two for the 2005-06 academic year, thus limiting the institution to no more than 83 total grants-in-aid in football for five years (2001-02 to 2005-06). (Note: The institution annually awarded 85 grants-in-aid during the previous four years prior to the imposition of the reduction in total scholarships starting with the 2001-02 academic year.)
The number of expense paid visits to the institution's campus in the sport of football shall be limited to 50 for the 2003-04 academic year. Further, the university shall not "bank" any of the unused visits from the 2003-04 academic year and add them to the total visits available in the 2004-05 academic year. (Note 1: NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 specifies that Division I-A football programs are permitted up to 56 official paid visits per year. Note 2: The institution averaged 54.6 visits during the four-year period starting with the 1998-99 academic year and concluding with the 2001-02 academic year.)
During this period of probation, the institution shall:
Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation, including seminars and testing, to instruct the coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all university staff members with responsibility for the certification of student-athletes for admission, retention, financial aid or competition;
Submit a preliminary report to the director of the Committees on Infractions by May 30, 2003, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program; and
File with the committee's director annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by January 15 of each year during the probationary period. Particular emphasis should be placed on adherence to NCAA legislation with regard to the employment of student-athletes, the monitoring of such employment, and compliance with NCAA legislation relating to outside income for institutional staff members. The reports must also include documentation of the university's compliance with the penalties (adopted and) imposed by the committee.
At the conclusion of the probationary period, the institution's chancellor shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the university's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.
As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, shall be subject to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206, concerning repeat violators, for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, April 17, 2003.
The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case are: Thomas Yeager, committee chair and commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association; Paul T. Dee, athletics director, University of Miami; Jack H. Friedenthal, professor of law, George Washington University; Alfred J. Lechner, Jr., attorney, Princeton, New Jersey; James Park Jr., attorney, Lexington, Kentucky; and Josephine R. Potuto, professor of law, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.