WVU's Work Helped Ease Penalties

West Virginia's self-imposed penalties and cooperation with the NCAA's investigation of violations committed under former head coach Mike Seabolt were important factors in the decision to not remove scholarships or ban WVU from postseason play – two penalties that are usually indicative of the most serious sorts of violations.

"West Virginia University's job in assessing the penalties was good," said Josephine Potuto, head of the Division I Committee on Infractions. "Although universities are responsible for the actions of their employees, the committee noted that the violations were primarily committed by one individual, not a variety of individuals."

Although West Virginia's compliance office was cited for a "failure" in its understanding of Seabolt's coaching of an outside team, which resulted in several impermissible contacts with potential recruits, Potuto noted that it was a misunderstanding, not a deliberate act, that led to the failure.

"[That was] a misunderstanding that the compliance director acknowledged," Potuto said. "But it did not end with the creation of more violations. The compliance staff did not know that [Seabolt] was coaching an outside team those two summers. Therefore, the failure is one of understanding."

Most importantly, the University was not accused of one of the most serious infractions – a lack on institutional control. Such allegations, and findings of guilt, usually result in far stiffer penalties. In the teleconference announcing and discussing the penalties, WVU was credited by the NCAA for its participation in the investigation.

"No allegation brought by the enforcement staff that WVU's oversight constituted a failure of institutional control or a failure to monitor," Potuto stated clearly.

West Virginia's diligence in conducting its own internal investigation, and its application of self-imposed penalties, carried a good deal of weight with the committee. The NCAA levied just two modifications to WVU's actions, as well as adding a standard period of probation.

The penalties applied by West Virginia included:

  • Limits on off campus recruiting through May of 2007

  • Prohibiting on- and off-campus recruiting of international prospects through May of 2007

  • Prohibition of prospects or student athletes from using West Virginia's facilities on campus during the summer of 2006

  • Elimination of spring soccer in 2007

  • Limiting official recruiting visits to 17 during the 2006-07 season. That was a 50% reduction in the average number of official visits over the previous four seasons.

  • Prohibition of Seabolt from recruiting off campus

    The NCAA accepted those penalties, and made modifications to the first two penalties, extending them by one year. The NCAA imposed a two-year probationary period, during which West Virginia must make routine reports detailing the steps it is taking to enforce and adhere to the penalties. That probationary period will end on April 30, 2009.

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