UW Accepts NCAA Infractions Report

(Seattle,WA) - The University of Washington's department of intercollegiate athletics has received the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report No. 226 Case No. M209 imposing penalties on the Husky athletic department. Washington will not exercise its option to appeal the committee's decision.

The committee did not find a lack of institutional control, though it did find a failure to monitor with respect to the use of a boat in recruiting and gambling issues. There were no new penalties beyond those previously imposed by the University and the Pacific-10 Conference, though the length of the Pac-10 penalties was extended by one year.

"We are pleased that the NCAA has concluded its work in this case and found no lack of institutional control," said Husky athletics director Todd Turner. "In most respects, the report is consistent with the findings and penalties of the Pac-10, and it agrees with our own investigation and corrective actions. The extension of the length of the penalties previously imposed by the Pac-10 was not expected, but is not excessive."

The report indicates former football coach Rick Neuheisel, as well as other athletic department staff, did violate NCAA gambling legislation. The committee could not determine if Neuheisel relied upon gambling memos issued by the former compliance director. The committee accepted the University¹s termination of Neuheisel among the sanctions imposed. The committee further noted, "it was very troubled by the fact that when he (Neuheisel) was first questioned about his participation in the 'bidding pool', the former head coach did not provide truthful information."

"We are eager to move forward, continue to implement our corrective actions, and build a program that fully reflects the University's values," said University President Mark Emmert. "I have confidence that, under Todd Turner's leadership, all of the pieces are in place to accomplish that. We will do things the right way. We expect to be exemplary in everything we do."

Here is the text of the NCAA's decision regarding Washington's infractions:

INDIANAPOLIS—The NCAA Committee on Infractions has extended the University of Washington's probationary period until February 2007 for violations of gambling and recruiting in the football program and the institution's failure to monitor itself.

The penalty represents a two-year extension from the ending date of the probationary period imposed in the University of Washington's infractions case in 2003 involving the men's basketball program.

The most recent infractions case focused on impermissible gambling activities, primarily by the former head football coach but also by other members of the university's athletics department, who took part in "auctions" and betting pools involving the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

"Sports wagering is a problem that continues to threaten the well being of student-athletes and coaches and the integrity of intercollegiate athletics," said Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association and chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions when this case was decided. "The Committee on Infractions believes the NCAA bylaw that prohibits sports wagering is clear and that the former head coach in this case broke the rule. If not for unique and unusual mitigating circumstances in this case, the outcome certainly would have been different. This case should not be interpreted in any fashion as a softening of the NCAA's anti-gambling position."

The case also included recruiting violations that involved impermissible contacts between a representative of the university's athletics interests and prospective football student-athletes. These contacts involved rides on the representative's yacht from the university's campus to the former head coach's home, during which the representative had contact with the recruits and their parents. The university was also found not to have followed NCAA guidelines with charging the proper amounts for the boat rides during official visits.

The Committee on Infractions determined that this case "demonstrated a failure to monitor" by the institution, because the university did not provide the appropriate information to coaching and athletics staff members related to NCAA legislation that governs gambling activities and recruiting.

The committee noted that the genesis of this case began in 2002, when a confidential source reported to the NCAA enforcement staff that the former head coach had participated in a sports wagering pool. The former head coach was suspended in June 2003 by the university and relieved of his official duties in July 2003.

The committee noted that the former head coach took part in "auctions" involving the men's basketball championship in March 2002 and March 2003. The auctions took place in Bellevue, Washington, and Seattle, Washington, respectively. They involved groups of individuals who bid on several teams in the tournament. Through the course of his involvement in both auctions, the former head coach had net winnings over two years that totaled $11,219, the committee said in its report.

The committee stressed that the NCAA bylaw prohibiting sports wagering is "by its terms quite clear." But the committee pointed out that the university's former athletics compliance director sent two emails, in 1999 and 2003, that indicated it was permissible for university athletics employees to participate in basketball tournament pools. However, those emails did not define "pools" or "explicitly exclude other forms of gambling."

"This set of circumstances presents a unique problem, which requires a unique solution," the committee wrote in its report. The committee noted that the former head coach did knowingly participate in the basketball "auctions" on two different occasions. But the committee was unable to find that the former head coach did not rely on the emails when he took part in the auctions, and it said that reliance on the emails "would substantially mitigate the nature of the violation."

"Therefore, based on the foregoing, the committee finds that a violation of the (gambling) Bylaw 10.3 occurred," the committee wrote. "However, the committee finds under these unique and unusual circumstances that the violation was, as to the former head coach, not a violation of NCAA ethical conduct legislation."

In its report, the committee specifically noted that "it was very troubled by the fact that when (the former head coach) was first questioned about his participation in the 'bidding pool,' the former head coach did not provide truthful information."

The former head coach was interviewed three times on June 4, 2003, and denied placing bets in the first two interviews. During the third interview, "he ultimately provided truthful information about his involvement in the bidding pools," the committee said.

The committee detailed in its report that it asked the NCAA enforcement staff during the infractions hearing on June 11, 2004, why it did not charge the former head coach with violating ethical conduct legislation for initially denying his involvement in the gambling activities.

"The staff stated that it has a general policy in which individuals will not be charged with unethical conduct if they ultimately provide truthful information the same day they provided the false information," the committee wrote. "However, such determinations depend on the circumstances and there could be situations in which an individual might be charged with providing false and misleading information despite the fact that he later provided truthful information."

The committee also determined that other violations of NCAA gambling legislation occurred in Washington's athletics department. These violations are secondary in nature and include the following:

Division I Men's Basketball Championship pools were conducted within the university's football office in March 2000, 2001 and 2002. Participants included several assistant football coaches, other football office staff members and family members and friends of the coaching staff members. Cost to participate was $3-$5 per occasion.

An athletics equipment manager took part in two men's basketball championship pools in March 2003. Cost to participate in each was approximately $5.

Five athletic trainers participated in basketball pools outside the university in March 2003, with a cost of about $5 each.

The former compliance director participated in an NCAA men's basketball championship pool outside the institution once between the 1999-00 and 2002-03 academic years. Cost of her participation was roughly $5.

The recruiting violations in this infractions case took place between the 1999-00 and 2002-03 academic years. The university allowed a representative of its athletics interests to have impermissible contacts with numerous prospective football student-athletes and their parents. These contacts occurred when the representative provided rides on his yacht for the recruits and their parents between campus and the home of the former head coach.

The committee outlined in its report that the former head coach asked the former director of athletics if she knew of anyone who owned a yacht and would be willing to provide boat transportation to prospective student-athletes on recruiting weekends. She provided the name of the representative, and the former football recruiting coordinator contacted the former compliance officer to discuss arrangements for use of the yacht.

The former compliance director said the use of the yacht was permissible and that passengers must pay a charge equal to the local "ferry" rate to the owner for use of his yacht, according to the committee. The former head coach also used his personal boat "on occasion" to transport recruits to his home. The university continued to use the boats and charge the "ferry" rate, even after being told by the Pacific-10 Conference and the NCAA national office that it must charge a full rental rate, the committee said.

"Apparently, those in a position of authority either did not understand that the representative himself would be piloting the boat (described as a 65-foot yacht), or that his piloting of the boat and inevitable contact with recruits and the parents of recruits would be a potential violation of NCAA legislation," the committee wrote in its report.

The committee specifically noted that the former director of athletics was present at the former coach's home twice when recruits were transported by the representative on his yacht, "yet did not recognize or report a violation of NCAA legislation."

"The committee concluded that the violations in this instance were major in nature as they were not isolated, because they occurred on numerous occasions. Further, they did not appear to be inadvertent inasmuch it is commonly understood legislation that any type of contact between prospects and boosters is forbidden under NCAA legislation," the committee said.

The committee said the university's compliance office and the former director of athletics should have asked who would pilot the yacht, adding that the football office should have identified the representative as the person who was piloting the yacht. Had the former director of athletics questioned the representative's presence at the former head coach's home and pursued it through appropriate compliance channels, "it is likely that at least some of the violations could have been prevented," the committee said.

Other recruiting violations took place several times between the 2000-01 and 2002-03 academic years when numerous football student-athletes were provided transportation on two privately owned boats during their official paid visits at a rate below the appropriate cost of such transportation. These violations occurred after the university was provided with information and instructions from both the Pacific-10 Conference office and the NCAA national office as to the correct amount the prospects should be charged for the transportation.

The committee indicated that the scope and nature of the gambling and recruiting violations in this case demonstrated a failure to monitor by the institution. Specifically:

The institution failed to ensure that its coaching staff members and athletics department staff members understood and followed NCAA legislation regarding gambling activities; The institution failed to properly apply NCAA legislation regarding the appropriate cost of boat transportation for recruits, even after the correct information was provided by the Pacific-10 Conference and the NCAA national office; The institution failed to properly acknowledge and prevent contacts between a booster and prospective student-athletes and their parents who were transported on the booster's boat. In determining the appropriate penalties to impose, the committee considered the penalties imposed by the Pacific-10 Conference, in addition to the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. Because the violations in this case occurred before July 17, 2003, the date when the men's basketball infractions case was adjudicated through the NCAA's summary disposition process, the institution avoided being considered a repeat violator under NCAA bylaws.

The penalties imposed by the conference, self-imposed by the university and additionally imposed by NCAA Committee on Infractions included the following:

The University of Washington shall be publicly reprimanded and censured.

The university's probationary period will be extended by two years, to February 9, 2007, from when it was to conclude in the men's basketball infractions case (February 9, 2005). The Pacific-10 Conference had imposed a one-year period of probation.

The university suspended the former head coach for approximately six weeks prior to the beginning of the football season and terminated him just prior to the beginning of the 2003 season.

The number of expense-paid visits to the institution's campus in the sport of football is limited to 48 in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years. Further, the university shall not "bank" any unused visits from those academic years and use them in future years. NCAA bylaws permit up to 56 official paid visits per year. The institution proposed a limit of 48 visits for only the 2004-05 academic year. The university issued a letter of admonishment and later a letter of reprimand to the former compliance director, a letter of admonishment to the former faculty athletics representative and 10 current or former coaching staff or other athletics department staff members. The university also issued a letter of caution to an athletics department staff member. The university is prohibited from using water craft as transportation or entertainment for recruits during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years. The institution imposed this penalty for only the 2004-05 academic year. During the period of probation, the University of Washington must continue to develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation. The program must include 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.

The university must also continue to file with the director of the Committees on Infractions annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by June 15 of each year during the probationary period. Particular emphasis should be placed on adherence to NCAA gambling and recruiting legislation. 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 president must 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, Washington shall be subject to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw, concerning repeat violators, for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in the case (October 20, 2004).

The members of the NCAA Committee on Infractions who heard this case are Thomas E. Yeager, committee chair and commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association; Paul T. Dee, athletics director, University of Miami (Florida); Gene A. Marsh, law professor, University of Alabama; Andrea L. Myers, athletics director, Indiana State University; and Josephine R. Potuto, law professor, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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