The committee found that on July 3, 2001, the assistant coach sent a wire transfer of $300 to a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, residence where a prospective student-athlete (student-athlete 1) was staying with a high-school friend and his mother. The committee found that the $300 was intended for payment of expenses incurred by the prospective student-athlete. On July 28, the prospective student-athlete made an official paid visit to Georgia that was arranged by the assistant coach. Forty-four days after the money was provided, the student-athlete enrolled at the university.
The committee concluded that "the assistant coach provided the $300 and did so at a time when he knew that the university was recruiting the prospective student-athlete and that the money was provided for the purpose of facilitating the recruitment." The committee noted that it "found each of the several explanations of the assistant coach not credible and also found that these explanations were inconsistent."
The committee also found that, in knowingly providing a recruiting inducement in violation of NCAA rules, the assistant coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct.
In a separate matter, the committee found that the assistant coach violated NCAA principles of ethical conduct during fall 2001 in his conduct regarding a basketball coaching class he taught through Georgia's physical education and sport studies department.
The committee found that the assistant coach conducted the class in such a manner that the grades of "A" he awarded to three men's basketball student-athletes constituted academic fraud; that he encouraged two of the student-athletes enrolled in the class to provide misleading information to institutional and NCAA investigators about the administration of the course and the grading policy; and that he provided an extra benefit to the three student-athletes by the manner in which he administered the course.
In finding that the assistant coach committed unethical conduct as reflected in the academic fraud, the committee noted that the assistant coach provided "several different and irreconcilable statements" regarding the course requirements, grading policy and even the circumstances of his teaching the class. There were 39 students enrolled in the class, all of whom were ultimately awarded a grade of "A." Student-athlete 1 likely never attended the class, while student-athletes 2 and 3 attended only a few classes. The three men's basketball student-athletes in the class took no final exam, which the department chair required the coach to administer.
The committee noted that there was complete disagreement between the university and the assistant coach regarding what he had been told about course requirements, including the requirement to give a final examination.
The committee also noted that the assistant coach himself missed numerous classes, and that the physical education department chair believed that the substitute the assistant coach provided for the class was a graduate student, when in actuality the substitute was not a graduate student, but the administrative assistant for the men's basketball team.
The committee found that the administration of the basketball coaching class resulted in an impermissible extra benefit for the men's basketball student-athletes because those students were not required to do any work for the class. They were the only students in the class to receive course credit and grades of "A" based on activities (games and practices) already required of them as members of the men's basketball team, and they neither attended class regularly nor took the final examination. The committee noted that the student-athletes already received one hour of credit for varsity basketball participation.
The committee also found that the assistant coach engaged in unethical conduct by encouraging student-athletes 2 and 3 to provide misleading information in interviews with the university and the NCAA. The committee found that the assistant coach spoke with the student-athletes by cell phone, shortly after he had been interviewed and shortly before they were to be interviewed, describing to them a 425-point grading system that neither student-athlete had heard of previously. The committee also noted that this system did not appear on the course syllabus distributed by the assistant coach at the beginning of the semester.
In concluding that the assistant coach had committed both academic fraud and unethical conduct, the committee noted:
"While the varying and conflicting explanations proffered by the assistant coach lead to several versions of the course requirements for the class, the committee concluded that there was academic fraud no matter how described. If he is taken at his last word, then his description is academic fraud in that he described a sham course with no attendance requirements, no examinations, no information to students of his (425-point) grading policy, no reliable way to assess performance for purposes of awarding grades and no base of information from which to assure that all students were treated equally."
In a separate matter, the committee found that in November and December 2001, the university permitted six men's basketball student-athletes to receive extra benefits by not requiring them to pay for long-distance telephone charges incurred while the team was competing away from home. The extra benefits totaled $1,572.66, and they were not reported to the NCAA until July 2003. Consequently, all six student-athletes competed while ineligible during a portion of the 2001-02 academic year and during the entire 2002-03 academic year.
The committee noted that it was concerned by the "failure of university staff to follow long-standing, well-understood, and routine NCAA processes by reporting the violations, declaring the involved student-athletes ineligible and seeking their reinstatement." The committee also noted that had the violations been self-reported when they became known to the associate trainer and the head coach, the student-athletes would have been withheld from competition during the 2001-02 season. The committee also noted that the "competitive advantage gained from not reporting was significant" since the six student-athletes were top performers.
In conclusion, the committee considered this case to be of "particular concern" as it involved coach misconduct in the context of teaching an academic course. The committee also noted that it was troubled by "the number and range of instances of unethical conduct in which the assistant coach engaged. In this regard, the committee could recall few, if any, instances in which three separate and substantively different findings of unethical conduct were made against one individual."
Because the violations found in this case occurred within five years of the starting date of penalties associated with the 1997 Georgia football infractions case, the institution is a repeat-violator and subject to repeat-violator penalties.
In determining the appropriate penalties to impose, the committee acknowledged that the university cooperated fully with the enforcement staff and undertook a thorough and efficient investigation once the violations were reported by ESPN. The committee also noted that the university's most recent infractions case did not involve the men's basketball program.
The committee also considered the institution's self-imposed penalties, its corrective actions and the nature of the violations in this case. The committee determined that the case clearly warranted the imposition of a one-year postseason ban, and credited the university for that penalty because of its action in removing the team, highly ranked at the time, from postseason competition at the conclusion of the 2002-03 season. The penalties self-imposed by the institution are so noted.
Public reprimand and censure.
Four years of probation beginning with the date of the hearing, April 17, 2004.
The committee would have imposed a one-year postseason ban in men's basketball had the university not removed itself from postseason competition for the 2002-03 season.
The institution shall reduce grants-in-aid in men's basketball by one during each of the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years. Under current rules, this limits the institution to a total of 12 grants in men's basketball during those three years.
The institution will vacate wins as well as team and individual records of the six student-athletes who participated in men's basketball contests while ineligible during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. The university's records regarding men's basketball, as well as the record of the former head coach, will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated records and will be so recorded in all publications in which men's basketball records for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons are reported, including university media guides, Internet Web sites, recruiting materials and university and NCAA archives. Also, any public reference to tournament performances during this time shall be removed, including athletics department stationery and banners displayed in public areas such as the arena where the men's basketball team competes.
The former assistant men's basketball coach will be informed in writing by the NCAA that, due to his involvement in certain NCAA violations found in this case, if he seeks employment or affiliation in an athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during a seven-year period (April 17, 2004, to April 16, 2011), he and the involved institution shall be requested to appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider whether the member institution should be subject to the show-cause procedures of Bylaw 22.214.171.124-(1), which could limit his athletically related duties at the new institution for a designated period.
The university suspended the former assistant men's basketball coach February 28, 2003, pending the investigation, and his contract was not renewed. The committee noted that, if the former men's basketball coach were still employed at the institution, the university would have been required to show cause, in accordance with NCAA bylaws, why it should not be subject to additional penalties if it had failed to take appropriate disciplinary action against him. (Self-imposed by the university.)
The university suspended the head men's basketball coach March 10, 2003, pending the conclusion of the investigation. He resigned March 27, 2003, and entered into a retirement agreement on that date. (Self-imposed by the university.)
Because this case involved academic fraud, this report will be forwarded to the appropriate regional academic accrediting agency by the NCAA's president in accordance with NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
The associate trainer received a letter of reprimand from the university and will be required to undergo retraining on NCAA rules and procedures. (Self-imposed by the university.)
The chair of the physical education and sports studies department received a letter of reprimand from the university. (Self-imposed by the university.)
Two student-athletes were declared ineligible for competition until recertification by the NCAA. Also, their academic credit for the basketball course taught by the assistant coach was withdrawn.
The university either did not renew or terminated the employment contracts of the entire men's basketball coaching staff. (Self-imposed by the university.)
During the probationary period, the university shall continue to develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation and submit periodic reports to the NCAA. The university also is required to submit, to the director of the NCAA Committees on Infractions, a preliminary report that sets forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program. The institution also must file annual compliance reports indicating progress made with the program and placing particular emphasis on: staff instruction that all violations must be reported to the compliance director; that receipt of extra benefits results in ineligibility that may be restored only through the NCAA reinstatement process; and that any coach participation in instructional programs, particularly graded programs, requires careful and regular monitoring by the appropriate academic officials. At the end of the probationary period, the university's president will 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, Georgia is subject to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, concerning repeat violators, for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, April 17, 2004.
The members of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case are: Thomas Yeager, committee chair and commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association; Alfred J. Lechner Jr., attorney, Princeton, New Jersey; Andrea L. Myers, director of athletics, Indiana State University; Josephine R. Potuto, professor of law, University of Nebraska College of Law; and Eugene D. Smith, athletics director, Arizona State University.