NCAA Penalizes Alabama State University


**NCAA News Release

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized Alabama State University for major and secondary violations in its athletics programs, primarily in football.

The case involves a lack of institutional control and a failure to monitor by the former head coach. The violations included academic fraud (considered by the committee to be among the most serious violations of NCAA rules), recruiting violations, extra benefits, and ineligible participation and financial aid. "A revolving door of administrators at the institution, including within the department of athletics, was a prime factor in the institution's inability to establish a viable compliance program, which ultimately resulted in the institution's failure to exercise institutional control," the committee stated in its report.

Penalties for the violations, including those self-imposed by the university, include five years of probation; a ban on postseason football in 2009; a reduction in recruiting activities; athletics scholarship reductions; vacation of records; a compliance program review; and a two-year show-cause order for the former head coach. This show-cause penalty is specifically intended to increase monitoring of the former head coach and enhance his rules education. During the 1999-00 to 2004-05 academic years, university staff members arranged for fraudulent academic credits for eight football student-athletes when their original letter grades were changed without approval from the appropriate university administrators. Six of these student-athletes avoided ineligibility status due to the grade changes.

During the 1999-00 to 2002-03 academic years, numerous football, men's and women's basketball, and baseball student-athletes were allowed to practice, compete and receive athletics scholarships while ineligible. The committee found the university failed to employ an adequate and consistent procedure for certifying and monitoring the eligibility of student-athletes, which resulted in the violations. Additionally, seven football student-athletes and six prospective football student-athletes received impermissible inducements and extra benefits in the form of lodging, utilities or meals at no cost from the summer of 2000 to the end of the 2001-02 academic year. As early as 1998, the committee has warned repeatedly of the elevated risk of violations when prospective student-athletes are on campus before their first full-time enrollment.

The committee has stated that institutions have an increased responsibility to be vigilant in tracking these prospective student-athletes to assure compliance with NCAA rules. During the 1999-00 to 2001-02 academic years, though, two prospective football student-athletes and several ineligible football student-athletes participated in impermissible out-of-season workouts conducted by the former strength and conditioning coach. The former strength coach, along with the football coaching staff, also conducted winter conditioning activities. Based on the violations in this case, the committee found the university exhibited a lack of institutional control over its football program. The committee noted a general lack of compliance education and monitoring institution-wide. In particular, the committee stated that the university created an environment that facilitated violations of NCAA rules across several university departments and offices, including housing and residential life, financial aid and as athletics. The committee found that the former head coach failed to monitor his and his staff's activities for NCAA rules compliance and failed to maintain an atmosphere of compliance among his staff and within the football program.

The committee noted that a head coach has "an affirmative obligation to create an environment of compliance where coaches understand their obligation to avoid rules violations and to timely report any violations that occur." The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are as follows: Public reprimand and censure. Five years of probation (December 10, 2008, to December 9, 2013). Two-year show-cause order for the former head coach (December 10, 2008, to December 9, 2010). No postseason competition for the 2009 football season. Reduction of official paid visits in football during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 academic years from 56 to 46. (Self-imposed by the institution.) Withheld all football coaches from engaging in recruiting activities for two weeks in December during December 1-14, 2003. (Self-imposed by the institution.) Reduction in football scholarships to 58.74 during the 2004-05 academic year and 54.11 during the 2005-06 academic year from the limit of 63. (Self-imposed by the institution.) Limit the total number of student-athletes who can receive partial scholarships, known as "counters," in the football program during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years. The number was reduced to 80 from the limit of 85. (Self-imposed by the institution.)

Limit the total number of football student-athletes receiving partial scholarships in the football program for the first time, known as "initial counters," during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years. This number was reduced to no more than 20 from the limit of 30. (Self-imposed by the institution.) Due to competition by ineligible student-athletes, the university forfeited all regular-season football contests in the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The university also forfeited the 2001 Southwestern Athletic Conference championship. (Self-imposed by the institution and adopted as a vacation by the committee.)

The university shall vacate all football contests won by the university in 2000 and 2001, including the conference championship. The individual records of the ineligible student-athletes should be vacated as well. Further, the record of the former head coach will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated wins and recorded in all publications in which football records for the affected seasons are reported, including media guides, recruiting material, electronic media and institutional and NCAA archives. Any public reference to these vacated contests should be removed from the athletics department stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear.

The university must initiate a review of its athletics compliance program by a competent, external agency as soon as one can be scheduled.

The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case are Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law and chair of the committee at the time the Alabama State case was heard; Eileen Jennings, general counsel at Central Michigan University; Alfred Lechner Jr., attorney; Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and formerly director of athletics at Hampton University; Jack Friedenthal, professor at George Washington University National Law Center; Bonnie Slatton, professor of physical education and sport science, University of Iowa; and Thomas Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association.