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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Committee on Infractions Issues Decision in LSU Case

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions issued its decision in the Lousiana State University (LSU) enforcement case on July 19, 2011. The committee determined LSU committed rules-violations in its football program. The committee also cited a former assistant football coach for unethical conduct. The penalties LSU received included recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions and one-year of probation for the university. The former assistant football coach received a one-year show-cause order that limits his athletically related duties.

Interestingly, the committee noted the penalties were reduced due to the efforts of the LSU compliance office. The committee stated “The compliance office was proactive, fully investigated and cooperated with the enforcement staff to uncover the full range of the violations.” This is in stark contrast to the language used and ultimately, the penalties the committee chose to impose in the Georgia Tech enforcement decision on July 14, 2011. Here, the committee noted “This case provides a cautionary tale of conduct that member institutions should avoid while under investigation for violations of NCAA rules.” The committee added “Georgia Tech failed to cooperate and protect the integrity of the investigation when its staff members provided information to a football student-athlete regarding the scope of his upcoming interview, according to the committee findings … despite specific instructions by the enforcement staff, which the committee concluded impeded the investigation and hindered efforts to get to the truth in the case.”

In light of these cases, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends that institutions a) review their procedures for reporting rules-violations; b) review their procedures to ensure impartial, thorough and timely internal investigations; c) clearly define responsibilities for staff members involved in the enforcement process; d) clearly define consequences for intentionally, knowingly or negligently failing to report a rules-violation; and e) develop standardized policies and procedures for reporting possible rules-violations and self-imposing sanctions.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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