WVU Receives Notice of Allegations

In a statement that lasted just under four minutes, West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck said that his department received a formal Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Wednesday outlining rules violations committed by the Mountaineer football program.

Luck, who was just introduced as WVU's new athletic director in June, acknowledged that "mistakes" were made by the football program from 2005 through 2009 and vowed that they would not happen again.

The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reported in June that WVU had reported itself to the NCAA for having too many coaches present and giving instructions during football practices.

Marshall beat writer Chuck Landon cited anonymous sources in claiming that Pat Kirkland, the Mountaineers' Director of High School Relations, and Dale Wolfley, the Director of Player Development, were coaching the team during practice, a violation of NCAA rules.

Luck did not directly confirm those reports, but his statement indicated that the activities of personnel within the football program other than the actual coaching staff were at the heart of the investigation.

"The allegations focus primarily on the activities and roles of graduate assistants, student managers and other non-coaching staff in the football program," Luck said.

"Because of our strong commitment to compliance, we implemented significant changes intended to ensure that those mistakes did not continue, and that they will not happen again."

Among those changes are a reduction in the number of football graduate assistants, further restrictions on the duties of those graduate assistants and other "non-coaching" personnel, and a "restructuring" of the football team's student manager program.

Luck said that West Virginia officials had spent the spring writing new job descriptions and formal employment agreements with various personnel, which delineated exactly what is and is not permissible for the people working in those positions.

He also said programs to educate people working within specific programs on NCAA rules and compliance monitoring programs have been expanded.

"West Virginia University has always prided itself on its commitment to compliance," Luck said. "We take this responsibility very seriously. I know that our coaches and staff are fully supportive of these obligations."

According to Luck, the NCAA's investigation is "nearly complete." In the process, NCAA enforcement staff interviewed more than 80 people connected to the WVU program.

The work is not done on WVU's end. The athletic department will have to formally respond to each allegation by no later than Nov. 5, according to a letter from NCAA Vice President of Enforcement David Price to West Virginia University President James P. Clements.

If the University files its responses to the allegations by Oct. 19, the NCAA Committee on Infractions will consider WVU's case at its meetings in Indianapolis on Dec. 10-11. If the responses are not filed by Oct. 19, the case will instead be heard at the committee's meetings on Feb. 11-12 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WVU has until Monday to tell the NCAA which option it will take. Luck did not say just how quickly the University planned to respond.

"We are eager to resolve this and move forward," Luck said.

Luck did not take questions from media after making his statement, saying that because the investigation is still technically ongoing, "it is not appropriate to further discuss the specifics of the allegations or any potential institutional actions."

Towards the end of the statement, however, the new athletic director made clear that this would not be cause for a change in the Mountaineer football coaching staff.

"I have spoken at length to coach Bill Stewart and his staff, and I am convinced that they believe in operating a fully-compliant football program," Luck said. "Coach Stewart and his coaches have my full support, the full support of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the full support of the University."

But the new WVU athletic director also made clear that there is no grey area when it comes to rules violations in his eyes.

"NCAA compliance is essential to our athletic success," Luck said. "Our commitment to rules compliance is clear: nothing short of perfection is acceptable. If we fall short of that standard, in any way, we will acknowledge it and remedy it."

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