"Mississippi State takes seriously any questions that arise about the integrity of our athletics program and our commitment to following the rules," Lee said. "We will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA and do all that we can to conclude this matter in a timely and appropriate manner."
NCAA rules require that the university receive a report on the status of the inquiry within six months after receiving notice of the preliminary inquiry. The NCAA said it expects to complete the inquiry by July.
"As a result of our cooperation and participation in the interview process that has been under way, we are receiving regular updates from the NCAA," Lee said.
The university has made public the letter of preliminary inquiry.
(Here's a copy of the letter from the NCAA.-Gene)
March 6, 2003
Dr. Charles Lee
Mississippi State University
610 Allen Hall, Creelman Street
Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762-6018
Dear Dr. Lee:
The purpose of this letter is to advise you that the NCAA has begun an investigation of the institution's football program in accordance with the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 32.2 of the NCAA enforcement procedures. This will confirm that Mark. P. Jones, NCAA director of enforcement, and Richard A. Johanningmeier, NCAA associate director of enforcement, will coordinate the processing of this case on behalf of the NCAA. It is the present intention of the enforcement staff to complete this investigation by July 2003.
At this time, the allegations of possible violations primarily involve the sport of football and began during the 1998-99 academic year and continued through the 2001-2002 academic year. The allegations include improper contacts, offers and inducements to prospective student-athletes either by current and former members of the football coaching staff, or representatives of the university's athletics interests (NCAA Bylaws 13.01.5, 13.2.1 and 13.2.2), and the provision of extra benefits to current and former football student-athletes (NCAA Bylaw 16.12.2). In addition, the staff shall review whether violations of the principles of ethical conduct by a member of the athletics staff (NCAA Bylaw 10.1) occurred and whether there was a failure to maintain institutional control (Constitution 2.1.1) ro to adhere to the principles of rules compliance (Constitution 2.8). However, please note that new information often is developed during an investigation that leads to expanded inquires. In the event such information is developed, you will be kept informed. Also, in accordance with the NCAA Bylaws 22.214.171.124.1 and 126.96.36.199.2, the general status of this inquiry will be reported to you in writing at the end of the six-month intervals. The date of this letter will begin the first six-month reporting period. The procedures also require the enforcement staff to meet with you to discuss the inquiry to date. If you desire such a meeting, it is the enforcement staff's preference that it be scheduled in conjunction with an ensuing trip to campus. Please contact Mr. Jones to discuss how to handle the meeting arrangements.
The institution and any individual may be represented by legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings. However, individuals associated with the institution should be requested not to discuss the case with other parties involved in the case prior to interviews conducted by the NCAA enforcement staff and the institution except for consultation with legal counsel. These individuals shall include any party interviewed or scheduled to be interviewed by the enforcement staff.
The investigation by the enforcement staff is being conducted under my direction. However, in the event of procedural disputes or if the investigation results in an official inquiry, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions would assume jurisdiction for correspondence concerning the hearing process. All correspondence to the committee should be forwarded to Shepard C. Cooper, director of the infractions committee, at the NCAA national office.
In the event allegations related to possible major violations of NCAA legislation are substantiated, the Committee on Infractions will consider the case through the hearing process. Bylaw 32.7 explains the procedures that are followed when it is necessary for the institution, the enforcement staff and involved parties to appear before the committee. It is the enforcement staff's position that a summary disposition report would not be applicable in this case inasmuch as some of the possible violations may have occurred within five years of the findings and penalties imposed upon the institution by the NCAA Division I Committee of Infractions, as noted in the Committee's March 7, 1996, infractions report. As a result, the institution could be subject to the NCAA's repeat violation provision as noted in NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 if major violations are later alleged in a letter of official inquiry.
Also, if the institution currently (or at a time during the proceeding of this case) is subject to an athletics certification process per Bylaw 22, it is requested that the institution notify the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification through Keith Gill, NCAA director of membership services, of this letter and of this investigation.
The enforcement program of the NCAA is a cooperative undertaking involving individual member institutions and allied conferences working together through the NCAA - a unified effort designed to improve the administration of intercollegiate athletics. You are called upon as chief executive officer of Mississippi State University for your cooperation and assistance to the end that complete information related to this matter may be developed.
Your assistance is appreciated.
Vice-President for Enforcement Services