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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Press release: NCAA - Committee on Infractions Penalizes University of Kansas for Major Violations in Men’s Basketball and Football

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Editor's note: The following is a press release sent out by the NCAA concerning additional penalties imposed on Kansas University's football, men's basketball and women's basketball penalties. Specific penalties are near the bottom of the press release, after a review of penalties that were unearthed during KU's internal investigation. Continue to log onto kusports.com for more information throughout the day.

INDIANAPOLIS-The University of Kansas has been penalized by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions for major violations in the sports of men's basketball and football and lack of institutional control.

These violations include a booster providing more than $5,000 in benefits to two basketball players and their families; the majority of the benefits were provided to one student-athlete before and after he enrolled at the university. Two other boosters provided graduation gifts to outgoing basketball players with the knowledge of athletics department personnel.

In football, seven transfer student-athletes received improper benefits after they moved on campus in the summer before they were admitted, and a former graduate assistant football coach committed academic fraud by providing answers to test questions for two of these student-athletes.

"The committee finds that during the period in which the violations took place, the institution lacked control over its department of athletics and that the deficiency contributed to the problems that arose," the committee wrote in its public report.

As a result, the Committee on Infractions has reduced the number of scholarships for men's basketball and football and placed the university on probation for three years. Among other penalties, it also required the university to disassociate the booster who provided the majority of extra benefits to the basketball players for a period of four years.

The basketball violations involving one booster took place from 2002 through 2005.

During that time the booster (cited in the report as "representative 1") provided cash, transportation, clothing and other benefits totaling more than $5,000 to two men's basketball student-athletes. More than $4,500 in benefits was given to one student-athlete, his Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) coach and his family members, whom the booster befriended while the student-athlete was still in high school. The other student-athlete received benefits from the booster totaling approximately $450.

In its public report, the committee noted that it is "particularly troubled" by the booster transporting the student-athlete and his AAU coach to the 2004 Division I Men's Basketball Championship Regional Semi-Final and Regional Final contests. The distance was more than 1,000 miles and the booster paid for all transportation, lodging and meals for the student-athlete, as well as transportation costs for the AAU coach.

The prospect, the booster and the AAU coach all received game tickets from the university as they were listed as guests of a men's basketball student-athlete on the complimentary ticket list at the regional contests. The prospect and the booster were identified as a "friend" of the student-athlete and the AAU coach was listed as "coach." The vast majority of people receiving complimentary tickets, however, were immediate family members.

"The institution did not follow up to determine who was using the complimentary passes; had it done so, the impermissible acts of (the booster) might well have been discovered earlier and the name of (the student-athlete), who at the time was a prospect being actively recruited by the institution, likely would have been noticed," the committee said.

More than a year later, in June 2005, the booster made comments to the chancellor at an alumni function that raised enough concern for the chancellor to ask the present director of athletics to investigate the situation.

After this recruit enrolled at the university the booster continued to provide benefits, including arranging for the student-athlete's mother to purchase the booster's son's vehicle and later providing a loan to her to buy a different vehicle.

Other violations in men's basketball related to two boosters sending financial gifts to graduating student-athletes. One booster, an elderly woman, had been sending cards and gifts of $50 to $100 to graduating men's basketball student-athletes since 1988. She said she asked permission and indicated that a former director of athletics (cited in the report as "former director of athletics 1"), a former head men's basketball coach and others in the men's basketball office were aware of the gifts. The present director of athletics discovered the gifts in 2004 while visiting the men's basketball offices. He noticed the letters, took possession of them and further investigated.

Another booster sent letters and checks totaling $300 to $400 beginning in 2000-01 or 2001-02 to men's basketball senior student-athletes to help them transition to "the real world." The booster claimed that the former men's basketball head coach told him it was permissible to provide modest amounts of money to student-athletes who had graduated or exhausted their eligibility.

The former director of athletics at the time denied knowing the boosters were providing the gifts, and the former head coach said he checked with the compliance office and "was of the opinion that such gifts were allowable." But he could not recall with whom he spoke, and compliance office staff could not remember ever having a conversation with him about the gifts.

The major violations in football took place in 2003 after seven two-year college prospects moved on campus to participate in voluntary workouts and take correspondence courses. These recruits had signed National Letters of Intent but had not yet qualified for admission to the university or gained eligibility for athletics participation.

The most serious violation involved academic fraud that occurred when a graduate assistant football coach gave two recruits answers to a test they were taking in the coach's dorm room. The exam was part of a correspondence course the recruits were taking to become eligible for admission and athletics competition. The committee made a finding of unethical conduct against this former graduate assistant coach (cited in the report as "former graduate assistant coach A").

The seven recruits were allowed to use student-athlete support service facilities and computers. They also used the offices and computers of graduate assistant football coaches to study and complete work for their correspondence courses. The graduate assistant football coaches also arranged for a proctor, a local high school teacher, for recruits' exams. The graduate assistant coaches and the proctor provided transportation to the testing sites for recruits as well.

"The committee has stated in numerous cases Å that it is critical for member institutions to monitor the activities of prospects moving to the campus vicinity in the summer prior to initial enrollment," the committee noted in its report. "Members of the coaching staff were well aware that the prospects in this case had not yet met all their eligibility for athletics competition; therefore, the need for monitoring them was particularly keen."

In its public report, the committee noted that the athletics department did not hire additional staff and provide more resources for its compliance office, even after an outside auditor recommended those changes and the chancellor instructed one of the former directors of athletics to make the changes after the former director of athletics was hired in summer 2001.

Instead, the compliance officer was given additional duties and a new compliance position was not created or filled even though funds were allocated for the position, the committee noted. "When the compliance officer subsequently voiced her concerns to the then director of athletics, she was told by him that 'compliance doesn't sell tickets,'" the committee wrote in its report.

The committee stated that the deficiencies in the athletics department cannot be entirely attributed to the then director of athletics (cited in the report as former director of athletics 2). After the chancellor instructed the former director of athletics to make the changes, "no one in the institution's administration followed up to make sure he complied," the committee wrote in its report. "It was not until approximately 18 months later that the institutional administration realized that compliance was still understaffed."

In addition, the compliance officer "continued to be overwhelmed, but she shares some responsibilities for the problems with the compliance effort on campus," the committee said. She failed to report numerous secondary violations to the Big 12 Conference or the NCAA for five years. She also failed to respond to a request for information from the director of student-athlete support services in 2003, which led to several of the violations involving the seven football transfer student-athletes.

"The breakdown in communications and the failure of the compliance office to meet its responsibilities--coupled with the then director of athletics ignoring the need to upgrade the compliance effort--are clear indicators of a lack of institutional control," the committee said in its report.

The compliance office did not hire additional staff members until the present director of athletics was hired in 2003. "The committee notes that under the present athletics administration, the institution has strengthened and more adequately staffed its compliance office," the committee said in its public report.

The committee also noted several secondary violations that took place at the university; they are outlined in the public report.

In determining penalties, the committee considered the university's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions, its cooperation with NCAA enforcement staff and its effort to thoroughly investigate the issues. The penalties are as follows:

* Public reprimand and censure.

* Three years of probation (October 12, 2006, to October 11, 2009).

* Reduction of recruited two-year college transfers to only three in 2006 and 2007; this is a 66-percent reduction based on a four-year average of these recruits (self-imposed by the university and adopted by the committee).

* Reduction of three initial scholarships in football for 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years (limiting the university to no more than 22 initial scholarships in both years). The university imposed a reduction of one initial scholarship for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic years. The reductions are independent of any scholarship reductions necessitated by action of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance.

* The university reduced two scholarships in women's basketball and limited the number of coaches who could recruit off campus from three to two for 2005-06. The committee noted that it found these penalties "wholly disproportionate" to what were determined to be de minimus secondary infractions but added they were served before the matter came before the committee.

* The committee reduced the number of scholarships for men's basketball from 13 to 12 in 2007-08 and 2008-09. It is giving the university flexibility to move the penalties back a year if it has already made scholarship commitments to recruits for next season. The men's basketball program must also reduce official paid visits by eight from the maximum allowed. Compared to the women's basketball program, the committee noted that the university imposed no sanctions on the men's basketball program, even though major violations were discovered.

* The former graduate assistant football coach who committed academic fraud (former graduate assistant football coach A) has been given a three-year "show cause" order. This means any NCAA college or university seeking to hire him over the next three years (until October 11, 2009) must appear before the Committee on Infractions to "show cause" why he should be allowed to work in intercollegiate athletics.

* The university must disassociate the booster who provided more than $5,000 in benefits to two men's basketball players for a four-year period ending October 11, 2010. The disassociation must include not accepting any assistance from the booster in recruiting prospects or support for enrolled student-athletes; refusing financial assistance or contributions from the booster; ensuring the booster does not receive any athletics benefit or privilege not available to the public at large; and implementing other measures as necessary to eliminate involvement of the booster in the athletics program.

Members of the Committee on Infractions who heard this case are as follows: Gene A. Marsh, chair, professor of law, University of Alabama; Paul T. Dee, director of athletics, University of Miami (Florida); Richard Dunn, professor of English, University of Washington; Jack H. Friedenthal, professor of law, George Washington University; Craig Littlepage, director of athletics, University of Virginia; Andrea L. Myers, director of athletics emeritus, Indiana State University; Yvonne (Bonnie) Slatton, professor of sports science and physical education emeritus, University of Iowa; and Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association.

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