NCAA Infractions Committee Release

INDIANAPOLIS—The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized the University of Oklahoma and several former coaches, including the former head men's basketball coach, for making almost 600 impermissible phone calls to men's basketball recruits.

INDIANAPOLIS—The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized the University of Oklahoma and several former coaches, including the former head men's basketball coach, for making almost 600 impermissible phone calls to men's basketball recruits.

In its public report released today, the Committee on Infractions criticized the former head men's basketball coach for willful violations that created a significant recruiting advantage for him and his program. Of the 17 recruits who received impermissible calls, five enrolled at the university and another signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the institution. The former head coach was identified as making 233 of 577 impermissible phone calls from 2000-04.

The committee said the former head coach fostered an environment of "deliberate noncompliance" in the men's basketball program, and it has prohibited him from making any recruiting phone calls or taking part in any off-campus recruiting for one year.

Should the former head coach's current employer choose not to limit his recruiting activities over the next year, until May 24, 2007, it must appear before the Committee on Infractions to explain, or "show cause," why it should not be penalized.



Several other penalties against the former head coach were imposed by Oklahoma and have been adopted by his current employer. The penalties for Oklahoma range from loss of scholarships to reductions in official visits and phone calls that coaches can make to recruits.

"This case is a result of the former head coach's complete disregard for NCAA guidelines for proper telephone contacts with recruits," said Thomas Yeager, acting chair of the committee and commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association. "The former head coach created and encouraged an atmosphere among his staff of deliberate noncompliance, rationalizing the violations as being a result of 'prioritizing' rules."

Yeager said the former head coach acknowledged the violations but did not take them seriously compared to "material inducements" for recruits. "The former head coach preferred to think of what he and his staff were doing as 'hard work' rather than cheating," he said.

The committee emphasized in its public report it is "troubled" that the former head coach served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and presided over a "widely publicized" NABC Ethics Summit called by the organization in October 2003 during part of the time period when the prohibited calls were being made.

"At a time when the NABC identified impermissible phone contact as a serious issue and the organization was calling on its membership to be accountable, the former head coach and his staff were engaged in a pattern of willful and significant recruiting violations," the committee said.

NCAA member institutions have enacted rules that limit the number of contacts coaches can make with recruits. During the years in which these violations were being committed, calls could not be made to men's basketball prospects prior to June 21 following their junior year in high school. Further, three calls were permitted in the month of July following a prospect's junior year (with no more than one call per week), and thereafter not more than one call per week could be made to a recruit by a coach.

The committee added in its report that the men's basketball staff at Oklahoma attempted to avoid detection by institutional compliance staff by not recording all calls on written logs as required. In addition, it said the former head coach was approached by a coach from another school about impermissible calls made by one of his assistants, but the former head coach did not report the violation or take action to stop it beyond saying he "talked to" the assistant coach.

The committee found that the former head coach failed to monitor his program and the university failed to monitor the calls made by the men's basketball staff. Yeager added that the committee considered conducting an ethical conduct hearing for the head coach but chose not to, saying it felt the ban on his recruiting activities through the show cause order was sufficient.

One of the former assistant coaches, identified as assistant coach A, received a three-year show cause order for making 165 impermissible phone calls to recruits. He recently received an identical penalty for similar violations at another member institution, and the penalties will run concurrently and independently. The former assistant coach presently is not employed in college athletics.

Another former assistant coach, identified as assistant coach B, had a number of recruiting restrictions placed on him by his current employer and was not further penalized by the committee. The third former assistant coach, identified as assistant coach C, made only a small number of impermissible calls primarily to a prospect whose father he had known for years and was not penalized by the committee.

The university also self-reported violations in women's gymnastics involving impermissible athletically related activities, and both the men's and women's gymnastics teams were cited for failing to track the time student-athletes are allowed to practice.

In addition to the show cause orders against the former head coach and assistant coach A, the penalties in this case are as follows:

Public reprimand and censure.
Two years' probation for the institution through May 24, 2008.

The committee adopted the university's reduction in scholarships in men's basketball from 13 to 11 for 2005-06 and from 13 to 12 in 2006-07.

The committee adopted the university's reduction in the number of permissible calls to prospects in July following their junior year in high school from three to one.

The committee adopted the university's reduction in number of permissible calls from one call per month to one call every other month to prospects on or after June 15 of the prospects' sophomore year in high school through July 31 of the prospects' junior year in high school, starting August 1 2005, and ending July 31, 2007. Certain exceptions are permitted per NCAA rules and are noted in the public report. The committee notes that this penalty will result in the reduction of at least 240 calls over two years "and was imposed to directly address any recruiting advantage gained by the impermissible telephone calls."

The committee adopted the university's reduction in the number of calls allowed to prospects after August 1 of their senior year in high school from two calls per week to one call per week for two years starting August 1, 2005, and ending July 31, 2007. Certain exceptions are allowed per NCAA rules and are noted in the public report. The committee said this will reduce the number of calls from at least 780 to possibly more than 1,600 calls over two years.

The committee adopted the university's restriction on the former head coach to recruit off-campus in July 2005 and its reduction on the number of permissible recruiters at any one time from three to two during July 2005. The committee also adopted the university's restriction to limit the former head coach from off-campus recruiting for a maximum of 19 days from August 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, including at off-campus appearances where prospects might be in attendance.

The committee adopted the university's reduction in official paid visits in men's basketball from 12 to nine in 2005-06 and permissible recruiting days from 130 to 96 for 2005-06 and 2006-07.

The institution issued a public letter of reprimand to the former head coach and retroactively banned him from receiving bonuses in his contract from March 2, 2005, to March 1, 2007. During this period, the former head coach's contract shall not be renegotiated, amended or extended and he is not eligible for any increase in compensation. The university said the cost to the former head coach over the two-year period for this penalty will be approximately $180,000.

The former head coach's current institution adopted and transferred several penalties in this case, including the reductions in permissible calls; the limits on off-campus recruiting for the former head coach through June 30, 2006; the public letter of reprimand; and limits on the former head coach's bonuses and employment contract. The current employer noted to the committee that the former head coach used 15 of 19 allowable days to recruit off-campus at Oklahoma and could only be off-campus to recruit four days from when he was hired through June 30, 2006. His present institution has also required weekly meetings between compliance staff and the director of basketball operations to monitor men's basketball recruiting activities. As previously mentioned, the committee added a one-year prohibition on recruiting phone calls and off-campus recruiting activities to these penalties.

Regarding women's gymnastics, the committee adopted the university's penalty to reduce practice activities by 192 hours for 2004-05 and 2005-06 and require the coaching staff to reduce practice by one hour a day in 2005-06. In addition, the coaching staff was allowed to provide individual skill instruction only every other week during Fall 2005 out-of-season practices.

The committee acknowledged the university's self-imposed penalties of issuing letters of reprimand and one-week suspensions from practice and team-related activities to the head women's gymnastics coach and the assistant coaches. The head coach was also required to attend a 2005 NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his expense. The institution also froze the head coach's salary for one-year and he did not have the opportunity to receive any bonuses in his contract for 2004-05, which were penalties imposed by the university and acknowledged by the committee.

The university self-imposed reductions in practice activities for the men's gymnastics teams by 108 hours in 2005-06 and only allowed the men's gymnastics coaches to provide individual skill instruction every other week during Fall 2005 out-of-season practice activities.

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.

Members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case in addition to Yeager were Jack H. Friedenthal, professor of law, George Washington University; Edward (Ted) Leland, vice president for advancement, University of the Pacific; Andrea Myers, director of athletics emeritus, Indiana State University; and James Park, Jr., attorney, Frost Brown Todd LLC.

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