The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized the University of Arizona for major violations involving the men’s basketball program. The violations occurred on multiple occasions over a period of two years and involve impermissible recruiting inducements and activities, a failure by the former head coach to promote an atmosphere of compliance and a failure to monitor by the university.
The penalties in the case include two years probation, recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions, vacation of wins and disassociation of an event promoter.
The violations in this case center around three Arizona Cactus Classic basketball tournaments and a GOAZCATS.com Showdown, which the promoter was allowed to conduct on the university’s campus. The committee found that the former head coach set the violations in motion when he allowed the promoter to have access to boosters to solicit financial support. The former head coach arranged for the promoter to speak directly to Rebounders, the men’s basketball booster club for the university, at regularly scheduled meetings. On one occasion, the former head coach personally exhorted these boosters to assist the promoter, and also sent a letter to boosters reminding them that the events were important for recruiting.
As a result, Rebounders members provided more than $197,000 in contributions to the promoter. This money was used to fund the events, which the former head coach acknowledged were beneficial to recruiting.
Because the former head coach was involved in the promotion of the events, the funding received by the participating prospective student-athletes became impermissible recruiting inducements. Two men’s basketball student-athletes competed while ineligible during the 2007-08 academic year, based on their receipt of impermissible benefits from the 2006 Cactus Classic.
The events also violated NCAA rules regarding tryouts.
Further, two incoming assistant men’s basketball coaches engaged in countable coaching activities with enrolled student-athletes and evaluated prospects participating in the 2008 Cactus Classic prior to their start date with the university. These evaluations took place during a recruiting quiet period when NCAA rules do not allow this activity.
The committee found that the former head coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program and failed to monitor certain activities regarding his program. It noted that the former head coach did not check whether his actions were allowed under NCAA rules and involved himself in the promotion of on-campus basketball events for prospective student-athletes. The committee also noted that he allowed coaches who had not yet joined his staff to engage in activities that triggered their status as a countable coach and then evaluate prospects during quiet periods.
The committee also found the university failed to monitor the administration of the four events involving numerous men’s basketball prospective student-athletes held on its campus. The committee noted the university’s broad rules education program for coaches, staff and student-athletes did not provide guidance regarding these events, or monitor the activities of the Rebounders group.
The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are below. Additional details are available in the public report.
The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Paul Dee, lecturer of law and education at the University of Miami and formerly that institution's athletics director and general counsel. He is the chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and formerly director of athletics at Hampton University; Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA; Melissa Conboy, deputy director of athletics at University of Notre Dame; Roscoe Howard, Jr., attorney; John S. Black, attorney; and Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University.