FIU Public Infractions Report (2005)

Submitted by Brian on February 24th, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I.  INTRODUCTION.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative endeavor that may be used in place of a formal hearing when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations.  This agreement was reviewed and adopted by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions at the May 2005 meeting.

This case primarily involved an assistant football coach (henceforth, "the former assistant coach") conducting skill and technique workouts for the offensive linemen in the years 2002, 2003 and 2004.   During both the springs and summers of those years, the former assistant coach held regularly-scheduled  60-90 minute  workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; all the workouts took place during times  when it was impermissible for the coach to be working with his student-athletes. In the three springs, a total of 30 impermissible sessions were held, resulting in 30 to 45 hours of time the former assistant coach worked with the linemen.  Nine workouts were held during each
of the three summers, resulting in a total of from 27 to 40.5 hours of impermissible activities.  The former assistant coach was aware that the workouts were not allowed.

The former assistant coach involved other coaches in his activities.   During the summer of 2004, he had a new coach who had been on the staff for only a week and had not yet taken a rules test (this was his first coaching job) assist him in conducting the workouts, and during the spring of 2004 he was assisted by a volunteer coach.   Beyond these two individuals, other members of the coaching staff, including the head coach  (henceforth, "the head coach")  and strength and conditioning coaches, were aware at least to some degree that the former assistant coach was meeting with the student-athletes and/or conducting the workouts.   The committee is troubled by the fact that none of the other staff members reported the activities to the compliance office or attempted to determine if the sessions were proper.    They argued  that they didn't have enough evidence of the
former assistant coach's activities or that they stayed out of other coaches' business. 

All members of a coaching staff have an affirmative duty to ensure that an institution is operating within the NCAA rules.  As a result of their failure to report the activity and the fact that the impermissible sessions occurred undetected by the administration for a three-year period, the committee finds that the institution failed to monitor the football program.

Because of his disregard for the rules, the committee finds that the former assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct.    The committee also finds that the head strength and conditioning coach (henceforth, "the strength coach") improperly reported to the head coach in summer  2004, which student-athletes were attending summer workouts.

A member of the Sun Belt Conference, the university has an enrollment of approximately 33,000  students.  The university sponsors  six men's and  nine  women's intercollegiate sports.  This is the university's first major infractions case.    

II.  FINDINGS OF VIOLATIONS OF NCAA LEGISLATION.

A.  IMPERMISSIBLE SKILL INSTRUCTION   
[NCAA Bylaws 17.1.5.2.2., 17.1.5.2.3 and 17.11.6-(2)]

During the  summers of 2002, 2003 and 2004,  the  former  assistant  coach conducted football  skill and technique workouts with student-athletes who were offensive linemen.  The sessions occurred during the summer  academic terms (July 1 through August 15, 2002; June 25 through August 8, 2003; and July 6
through July 23, 2004). Specifically: 

In 2002,  the former assistant coach  conducted a total of 12 sessions occurring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 p.m. for four weeks.  In  2003,  the former assistant coach conducted a total of 14 sessions, occurring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 p.m. for 4 1/2 weeks.  In 2004,  the former assistant coach conducted a total of four sessions, occurring every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 a.m. for two weeks.  The sessions were approximately one to 1 1/2 hours in duration.  The offensive line football student-athletes accrued 30 impermissible workouts between 2002 and 2004, and thereby gained a competitive advantage.

Committee Rationale

The enforcement staff, institution and the former assistant coach  are in agreement with the facts of this finding and that violations of NCAA legislation occurred. The committee finds that the violations occurred.  The former assistant coach was initially approached by some of his linemen in the spring of 2002 and asked for assistance in determining what drills they should perform during the off-season. Instead of allowing the student athletes to drill on their own, the former assistant coach began conducting technique practices that continued until they were personally observed by a member of the enforcement staff who traveled to the institution after receiving a tip in July 2004.  The sessions included work on blocking progressions, pass protection, and stances as well as conditioning activities.

B.  IMPERMISSIBLE OUT-OF-SEASON ATHLETICALLY RELATED ACTIVITIES. 
[NCAA Bylaw 17.11.6-(a)]

During the spring semesters of 2002, 2003 and 2004, and prior to the official starting date of spring football practice,  the former assistant coach  conducted impermissible technique activity with the offensive line football student-athletes.

The spring technique sessions were conducted in the same fashion as the summer technique sessions referred to in Finding II-A.   In 2002,  2003 and 2004,  the former assistant coach  conducted a total of nine sessions each year, occurring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 p.m. for three weeks.  The sessions lasted approximately one to 1 1/2 hours in duration. The offensive line football student-athletes accrued 27 impermissible workouts between 2002 and 2004, and thereby gained a competitive advantage.  

Committee Rationale

The enforcement staff, institution and the former assistant coach were in agreement with the facts of this finding and that violations of NCAA legislation occurred. The committee finds that the violations occurred. The sessions were similar in length and included the same types of activities as those detailed in Finding II-A.

C.  UNETHICAL CONDUCT. 
[NCAA Bylaws 10.1 and 10.1-(d)]

The former assistant coach  failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics  and violated the provisions of ethical conduct by providing false and misleading statements to  both the NCAA  and institutional staff regarding his contact with a student-athlete.  Specifically:

On July 23, 2004, at the conclusion of  the former assistant coach's  initial interview with the NCAA enforcement staff,  the former assistant coach  was admonished to keep the interview confidential.  The former assistant coach
acknowledged and agreed not to discuss the content of the interview. 

Approximately three hours after his July 23  interview, he was interviewed a second time by the enforcement staff and institution.  During the course of the second interview, the enforcement staff specifically asked the former assistant coach whether he had any conversations with any student-athletes after his first interview.  The former assistant coach  responded that he had not spoken to any student-athletes after his first interview.  However, it was discovered  that shortly after his first interview,  the former assistant coach  placed a cellular call to  a football student-athlete (henceforth, "the student-athlete").  The former assistant coach  could not immediately reach  the  student-athlete; however, at some point after  the former assistant coach's  interview and prior to  the  student-athlete's interview, the former assistant coach discussed the NCAA's investigation with the student-athlete and disclosed the content of his interview to the student-athlete.  

Committee Rationale

The enforcement staff,  the  institution and  the former assistant coach were  in agreement with the facts  in this finding and that violations of NCAA legislation occurred.  The committee finds that the violation occurred. The former assistant coach was interviewed by the enforcement staff on July 23, 2004. Following the interview, in which he was admonished to keep the interview confidential, he phoned the student-athlete.    The student-athlete had not yet spoken with the staff. During his subsequent interview the student-athlete reported, consistent with the former assistant coach, that only one impermissible summer workout had been held.   When the student-athlete was later re-interviewed, he admitted that he had spoken with the former assistant coach prior to being interviewed (and after the former coach had been interviewed) and that he had actually participated in four impermissible workouts during the summer of 2004.

D.  FAILURE TO MONITOR. 
[NCAA Constitution 2.8.1]

The institution failed to monitor the institution's football program.  Specifically:
1.  The offensive line practices were common knowledge among the football student-athletes.    The football coaching staff, including the head  coach, and members of the strength and conditioning staff were aware in varying degrees that the impermissible sessions were occurring.   However, the athletics department administration was unaware of these activities.

2.  The institution failed to monitor the out-of-season activities of the football coaching staff during the 2002, 2003 and 2004 spring and summer semesters.  The impermissible workouts were conducted on campus and within close proximity to the institution’s athletics facilities. The activities were  contrary to the legislation governing countable athletically related activities. 

The enforcement staff and the institution were in agreement with the facts of this finding and that violations of NCAA legislation occurred.  As set forth in the Introduction, the impermissible conditioning and technique sessions took place over a three-year period and were known in at least some degree to be occurring by as many as seven present and former coaches including the strength coach.   Additionally, the head coach knew that the former assistant coach was meeting with his linemen and failed to ascertain whether the meetings included any impermissible activities.  The majority of the coaches were aware that the sessions were impermissible, but none of them contacted the director of compliance  or any  other member of the institution's administration despite knowing that they had an obligation to report rules violations.    The director of compliance conducted spot checks of team activities but never at times when the impermissible  activities were occurring. However, the institution acknowledged that the activities sometimes took place during times when they could have been easily visible to athletics department staff and that it therefore failed to monitor the football program.

SECONDARY VIOLATION.
COUNTABLE ATHLETICALLY RELATED ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE PLAYING SEASON. 
[NCAA Bylaw 17.1.5.2.1.2]

During the summer of 2004, the head strength coach took attendance of football student-athletes participating in voluntary strength and conditioning activities.  The head strength coach maintained weekly attendance logs indicating a student-athlete's presence during summer strength and conditioning workouts.  The head strength coach  then periodically reported the information regarding a football student-athlete's attendance to  the  head football coach as well as selected assistant football coaches.  

III.  PENALTIES.

For the reasons set forth  in Parts I and II of this report, the Committee on Infractions finds that this case involved major violations of NCAA legislation associated with an assistant coach knowingly violating rules regarding athletically related activities and an associated failure to monitor. 

A.  PENALITES SELF-IMPOSED BY THE UNIVERSITY.

In determining the appropriate penalties to impose, the committee considered the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions.  (Note:  The institution's corrective actions  are  contained in Appendix Two.)  The university imposed the following penalties: 

1.  The institution terminated the contract of the former assistant  coach on July 25, 2004.

2.  The offensive line coach position  was  eliminated for  the entire 2004 season and during the 2005 spring practice.   Additionally, the coaching staff conducted the 2004-05 season one coach short of the NCAA Division I-A limit 

3.  The number of preseason fall camp practice sessions was reduced by four during August 2004.  The sessions were full-gear, padded practices involving the entire football team.

4.  It  was determined that the offensive line participated in 85.5 hours of impermissible activities over a three-year period.  To account for the competitive advantage gained from the impermissible sessions, a two-for-
one penalty was invoked; for each hour of impermissible sessions, the entire team will forfeit two hours of mandatory practice and/or conditioning time. Therefore, the entire football program will be required to reduce the practice/conditioning activities by 171 hours over the next three academic years, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07.  This time will be reduced during the preseason football practice periods, during the football seasons and during the permissible spring training periods. (Note: To date, the program has reduced 35 hours during the fall of 2004 and 30 hours during the spring of 2005 for a total of 65 of the 171 hours.)

5.  The institution will reduce by one the number of permissible football coaches recruiting off campus during the April 15 to May 31 evaluation period for two consecutive years (2005 and 2006).   

6.  The university imposed the following penalties for the director of athletics:  written reprimand, reduced employment contract term by six months and a cost of living increase was withheld for the 2004-05 fiscal year.

7.  The university imposed the following penalties for the head football coach:  written reprimand, cost of living increase  was withheld for the 2004-05  fiscal year; he will be ineligible for any merit- or performance-based bonuses for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years; prohibited  from engaging in any off-campus recruiting activity, including home or school contacts or evaluations for the 2004-05 academic year; he was required to attend the NCAA Regional Rules Compliance Seminar in Orlando, Florida (June 13-16, 2005), at his own expense; he will be required to successfully complete NCAA rules compliance tests designed by the director of compliance and administered by the faculty athletics representative quarterly  for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years; if within a two year period any another significant incident occurs on the part of the head coach or a member of his staff, serious employment consequences shall ensue which could include termination.

8.  The  strength  coach and assistant football coaches received a written reprimand from the president along with the following penalties: cost of living  increases were withheld for the 2004-05 fiscal year; ineligible for any potential merit or performance bases bonuses  for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years; was  required to attend the NCAA Compliance Seminar in Orlando, Florida (June 13-16, 2005) at their own expense; will be required to successfully complete NCAA rules examinations designed by the director of compliance and administered by the faculty athletics representative for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic year; any unethical conduct or failure to report a violation of NCAA rules where there is an act of intentional deception or lying will result in serious employment consequences which could include termination.

B.  ADDITIONAL PENALTIES IMPOSED BY THE COMMITTEE ON INFRACTIONS.
The additional penalties and requirements are as follows:

1.  Public reprimand and censure;

2.  Three years of probation from May 21, 2005, through May 20, 2008;

3.  The former assistant coach knowingly committed rules violations for a three year period.  He involved other members of the coaching staff in his activities, lied in his interview and spoke to a student-athlete about the young man's interview after being explicitly warned not to.   Therefore, he will be informed in writing by the NCAA that, due to his involvement in the violations of NCAA legislation found in this case, if he seeks employment or affiliation in an athletically  related position at an NCAA member institution during a three year period (May 21, 2005,  to May 20, 2008), he and the involved institution shall be requested to appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider whether the member institution should be subject to the show  cause procedures of Bylaw 19.6.2.2 (l), which could limit his athletically related duties at the new institution for a designated period.

4.  During this period of probation, the institution shall:  
a.  Continue to develop and implement  a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation, including seminars and testing, to instruct the coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all university staff members with responsibility for the certification of student-athletes for
admission, retention, financial aid or competition; 
b.  Submit a preliminary report to the  acting  director of the NCAA Committees on Infractions by  October 1,  2005,  setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program; and 
c.  File with the committee's director annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by May 15 of each year during the probationary period.  Particular emphasis should be placed on compliance with NCAA  bylaws governing voluntary athletically related activities and out-of-season workouts.   The reports must also include documentation of the university's compliance with the penalties adopted and  imposed by the committee.

5.  At the conclusion of the probationary period, the institution's president shall recertify in a letter to the committee that all of the university's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.

As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, Florida International University  shall be subject to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2.3, concerning repeat violators, for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, August 18, 2005.

The Committee on Infractions wishes to advise the institution that it should take every precaution to ensure that the terms of the penalties are observed.  The committee will monitor the penalties during their effective periods, and any action contrary to the terms of any of the penalties or any additional violations shall be considered grounds for extending the institution's probationary period, as well as imposing more severe sanctions in this case.

APPENDIX ONE

CASE CHRONOLOGY.
2004
July 13  –  Information was received by the enforcement staff concerning possible playing and
practice violations committed by the institution's football program. 
July 23 – The NCAA enforcement staff and institution conducted joint interviews related to the
possible violations. 
July 28 and August 3– The institution conducted additional interviews.
September – The institution notified the enforcement staff of its wish to process the case through
summary disposition procedures.
October 18  –  The institution submitted a self-report to the NCAA detailing impermissible
playing and practice activities, as well as an ethical-conduct violation.  The self-report also
outlined the institution's self-imposed penalties.  
November 5– The enforcement staff sent a notice of inquiry to the institution. 
2005
January 11 and 12  –  The NCAA enforcement staff, institution and Sun  Belt Conference
conducted additional joint interviews.
May – The summary disposition report was reviewed by the NCAA Division I Committee on
Infractions.
August 25 – Infractions Report No. 239 was released. Florida International University Public Infractions Report
August 25, 2005
Page No. 11
__________

APPENDIX TWO

CORRECTIVE ACTIONS.
The institution hired an assistant athletics director for student-athlete development.  In addition
to supervising all student-athlete welfare issues (CHAMPS/Life Skills, housing, etc.), this
individual will also be the liaison to the compliance program on issues of agents and amateurism,
gambling and NCAA rules education.  (Completed May 1, 2004)  
Mandatory compliance meetings for all coaches (head and assistant) and athletics administrators
will be held once a month and will be videotaped.  [Note:  Compliance meetings and review
sessions for all coaches were conducted three to four times per year in the past.]  If an
administrator or coach cannot attend the meeting for any reason, they will be required to check
out the tape and review the meeting in its entirety.  Those staff members who do not attend will
be required to take a short quiz covering the content of the meeting.  The director of compliance
will monitor this.   Failure  to adhere  to  this  requirement will be  included  in  the  staff member’s
personnel file.
A 15-minute educational period dedicated specifically to NCAA rules compliance will be added
to every monthly Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting with a special emphasis
on legislation dedicated to student-athlete welfare.  The assistant director of athletics for student-
athlete development will supervise this.
Information will be added in the institution's student-athlete handbook on permissible activities
as it relates to practice and conditioning activities.  In addition, a mechanism for anonymous
reporting of any potential violations of NCAA rules will be devised.  The assistant director of
athletics for student-athlete development will supervise this program.
The institution will hire an administrative assistant dedicated solely to athletics compliance.  This
will allow the director of compliance to perform more on-site monitoring of the program. 
Following the 2004-05 fiscal year, the institution will re-evaluate its compliance program and
add additional resources to the department.

Comments

formerlyanonymous

February 24th, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

So they knowingly got in an extra ~85 hours of work knowing that this time was against the rules, and they had a guy lie. I'd take the 2-for-1 practice penalty. We don't have that many hours that we went over, so I would assume that's less than 20 hours we would forfeit next year. I think that's affordable.

I have to imagine that the GA will be fired for the ethical violations much like their "former assistant coach."

So it comes down to the 3 years probation in this case for ~85 hours of knowingly violating rules and a certain coach conspiring to hide it. If we're coming clean on the GA, I would imagine it'd be less as well. Our hours are just a small fraction of their total, and we aren't going around gloating about a competitive advantage.

Zone Left

February 24th, 2010 at 10:24 PM ^

Both FIU and SDSU couldn't really claim a competitive advantage either. I guess "advantage" is a relative term. Without the "advantage" maybe Sheridan would have been yelling, "Hey, I'm ready to have the ball snapped to me Mr Center player," instead of that awful pre-snap clap.

This report and the SDSU report both appear to be more blatant and willful than Michigan's violations and I hope Michigan will receive correspondingly lower penalties.

Thanks again Brian!

Tater

February 24th, 2010 at 4:58 PM ^

So, if I understand this correctly, if they punish RR as they did the FIU coach, it means he won't be eligible for a bonus when Michigan wins the National Championship in 2011. I'm sure he won't mind too much.

FGB

February 24th, 2010 at 8:17 PM ^

So they did very similar things to what we did, only at a larger magnitude. But the NCAA also specifically mentions that the school has not had any previous major infractions.

To me, these penalties feel pretty soft: no cost of living increase, reduction in practice time (171 is a lot, but we'd presumably be in for less), 3 years probation. It's not pillow soft, but it's probably damp-grass-field soft, when compared to the other possible sanctions: loss of scholarships, severe recruiting restrictions, vacation of wins or (and I wouldn't want to presume with this team, but...) post-season bans.

All in all I'd take what they got. They did it worse than us, but we have the history of violations.

bronxblue

February 24th, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

Thanks Brian for posting this and the SDSU article. The NCAA came down pretty softly here considering that the violations certainly seemed more intentional than in UM's case, but the similarities are there. My only concern, again, is that UM is a much bigger fish than either SDSU or FIU, and so the NCAA might make a bit more of an example of UM. Not saying that is fair, but it also wouldn't surprise me.

Mountaineers Fanatic

March 1st, 2010 at 5:55 PM ^

Great job...and hopefully it will give others an insight as to what to expect from the NCAA. While the cases are very similar, Michigans is definately of a lesser degree. I can see UM losing a coach, losing a scholly or two, losing practice time, and being put on probation for maybe 2 years. All in all, that really isn't that bad.