The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized the University of Connecticut for violations in its men's basketball program.
The case includes more than $6,000 in improper recruiting inducements, impermissible phone calls and text messages to prospective student-athletes, failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head coach, failure to monitor by the university, and unethical conduct by the former operations director, among other violations.
Penalties include suspension of the head coach for three conference games during the 2011-12 season, scholarship reductions for three academic years, recruiting restrictions, permanent disassociation of a booster and three years probation. As a part of the disassociation of the booster, the university will not be able to accept financial contributions, recruiting assistance or provide him with any benefit and privileges. In addition, the former operations director received a two-year show-cause order that limits his athletically related duties. The public report includes additional details.
As stated in the committee’s public infractions report, this case centers on the “extraordinary steps” taken by the university to recruit a top prospective student-athlete to its men’s basketball program. The director of athletics stated it was the “most intense” he has ever seen the head coach about the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete. The committee found that in his “zeal” to get the prospect admitted to the university and eligible to compete, the head coach allowed a booster, who was a certified agent by the National Basketball Association, to be involved in the recruitment process. Further, the committee found that the head coach “overlooked indications” that this booster might be breaking NCAA rules. Specifically, the booster provided the prospect with impermissible inducements, including the payment of at least a portion of the expenses for the young man’s foot surgery; the cost of his enrollment at a basketball academy; the registration fee for the SAT; as well as strength, conditioning and basketball training.
The men’s basketball staff was aware of the booster’s status as an agent and his relationship with the prospect. In fact, the coaches had frequent contact with the booster through approximately 2,000 phone calls or text messages with the agent throughout the recruitment process. Despite this regular contact, the men’s basketball coaching staff did not question the booster about his relationship with the prospect. In fact, the staff was sharing information about the prospect’s recruitment with the booster, knew of the booster’s frequent contact with the prospect, and was aware that the booster hoped to someday serve as an agent for the prospect.
In addition, members of the men’s basketball staff exchanged 150 impermissible phone calls and sent 190 impermissible text messages to prospective student-athletes. The majority of these were sent to the high-profile recruit at the center of this case.
Additional violations occurred when members of the coaching staff provided 32 impermissible complimentary men’s basketball game tickets to individuals responsible for teaching or directing activities with prospective student-athletes.
Further, during the investigation, the former operations director violated the principles of ethical conduct when he provided false and misleading information to NCAA enforcement staff during two separate interviews.
Based on the scope and nature of the violations, the committee found the head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance and failed to monitor the program regarding phone calls, text messages and inducements provided by the booster.
Further, the committee found the university failed to monitor the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball program when it failed to monitor the booster’s conduct and his relationship to the prospect. The committee also noted the university failed to review the staff’s phone records to ensure they were not making impermissible phone calls and did not review the discretionary tickets provided to men’s basketball staff.
In determining the penalties, the committee considered the university's self-imposed penalties, corrective actions, and cooperation. The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the university and adopted by the committee, include:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Three years of probation from February 22, 2011, through February 21, 2014. The public infractions report further details the conditions of this probation.
• The head coach must be suspended from all coaching duties for the first three conference games of the 2011-12 season. He cannot be present in the arena where the games are played and cannot have contact with the coaching staff or student-athletes during the games.
• Two-year show-cause order for the former operations director (February 22, 2011, through February 21, 2013). The public report further details the conditions of this penalty.
• Permanent disassociation of the involved booster. The public infractions report includes further details.
• Reduction of men's basketball athletics scholarships from 13 to 12 for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
• Ban on men’s basketball recruiting calls during the 2011-12 academic year until 30 days after the first day that phone calls are allowed.
• Reduction in the number of men’s basketball coaches allowed to make phone calls from three to two, not including the head basketball coach, for six months after the university’s response to the notice of allegations (self-imposed by the university).
• Reduction of the number of men’s basketball off-campus recruiting days by 40, from 130 to 90, for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 recruiting periods.
• Limit of five official paid visits for men’s basketball for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
• The head coach, assistant coach and all members of the compliance staff must attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.
The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Dr. Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA; John S. Black, attorney; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law; Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; and James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative for University of Oregon.