Sunday, October 23, 2016

NCAA Places WVU on Probation for Recruiting Violations

After an investigation on self-reported rules violations that took place among 14 different athletic programs at WVU between 2010 and 2013 The NCAA placed WVU on probation this morning. Because all violations were self-reported and the University fully cooperated with the NCAA the Division 1 Infraction Panel placed the University on two years probation from February 18, 2015 through February 17, 2017. Women’s gymnastics, football, women’s basketball and women’s soccer committed most of the Level II communication violations including impermissible texts and phone calls.

The penalties imposed by the NCAA as well as self imposed by the University are listed below:

Penalties and measures prescribed by the committee are below:

  • Two years of probation from February 18, 2015 through February 17, 2017.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the assistant coach from February 18, 2015 through February 17, 2016. During this time, the assistant coach may not recruit during the 30 days before the 2015 spring NLI signing date. He must also attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar. Finally, the panel acknowledged and adopted the school’s suspension of one competition for the assistant coach.

Penalties self-imposed by the school and adopted by the panel (details contained in report appendix):

  • Reduction of telephone communication in all 14 involved sports during portions of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
  • Reduction of off-campus recruiting in football, women’s soccer, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.
  • Restrictions to official visits for the women’s soccer program.
  • Reduction of one football scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year.

New WVU AD Shane Lyons released a statement shortly after the ruling was announced:

““While I am disappointed with today’s NCAA Report, I do take note that our department found the infractions, self-reported them and worked with the NCAA in full cooperation to address and correct the issues. I am confident that the department has taken the necessary steps to correct its compliance and recruiting software program, reeducate the staff on updated NCAA changes on the rules surrounding text messages and phone calls and fulfilled our obligations to the NCAA concerning the situation long before I started as athletic director back on Feb. 2.

“I was aware of this issue when I interviewed for the job, and it did not deter my confidence at all in West Virginia University. We are and always will be committed to the legislation policies of the NCAA. Moving forward, I expect our department to continue its strong dedication to NCAA compliance.”

Executive Senior Associate AD Keli Cunningham also released at statement:

“While I am disappointed in the findings that resulted in our athletics department being responsible for a Level II infraction, it’s important to note that there was no failure to monitor, no lack of institutional control, and no failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. There was no systemic effort by any of our coaches to violate the rules or gain a significant recruiting advantage, and that is reflected by the NCAA’s decision.

“We take this very seriously and we accept the NCAA’s findings. West Virginia University continues to be committed to the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, and we will continue to work with the NCAA to fulfill our obligations during the probationary period. We are confident that the misunderstanding with the software package has been remedied and that we will be better equipped to help our coaches and staff avoid these kinds of infractions in the future.”

An exert from the NCAA release :

Between June 2010 and February 2013, West Virginia University coaches in 14 sports sent impermissible texts and placed impermissible calls to prospects and parents, according to a decision issued by a NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel. Most of the impermissible communications occurred in women’s gymnastics, football, women’s basketball and women’s soccer, resulting in Level II violations. Additionally, an assistant women’s gymnastics coach committed nearly all of the text and phone violations in that program. The recruiting violations in the other 10 programs were limited and the panel determined they were Level III violations.

Penalties in this case include two years of probation, recruiting restrictions and a one-year show-cause order for the assistant coach. During the show-cause period, the assistant coach may not recruit during the 30 days before the 2015 spring NLI signing date and must attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff and school must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having an in-person hearing. Because the violations and penalties are agreed upon by the school and involved individual, there is no opportunity to appeal.

A number of the coaches involved in the violations claimed a misunderstanding in some of the recruiting communication rules, which was the reason many of the violations occurred. Additionally, the school did not fully understand how to use compliance software it purchased to monitor phone and text activity. It wasn’t until the software company updated the software that the school learned of the violations. The violations occurred while the school was on probation from a previous infractions case.



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