On June 29, 2012, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee (IAC) released its decision regarding Boise State’s appeal of the September 2011 Committee on Infractions (COI) decision in their enforcement case. The IAC upheld a Boise State University football spring practice penalty and sent the reduction in football scholarships penalty back to the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions for reconsideration. The case involved a series of major violations with more than 75 prospects and student-athletes in five sports over the course of five years. The violations included multiple recruiting violations, including impermissible lodging, transportation, practice sessions, financial aid and cash payments. Penalties in the case included a four-year show-cause order for the former head women’s tennis coach and a two-year show-cause order for the former assistant track coach, a one-year postseason ban for women’s tennis, recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions, vacation of records, a $5,000 fine and three years of probation.
On appeal, the institution requested the football spring practice penalty be reversed because the restrictions did not directly relate to practice time violation and the football scholarship reduction penalties be reduced because they were inconsistent with past cases. The IAC confirmed the football spring practice penalty but remanded the scholarship reduction penalty back to the COI noting that prior penalty precedent should have been more fully weighed and considered. The IAC explained that while the COI “should not be strictly bound to a decision made years earlier, where the circumstances of intercollegiate athletics are shown to be qualitatively different, it does not mean that prior decisions provide no restraint or guidance to the Committee on Infractions and this committee or that insignificant changes in the environment in which NCAA member institutions can justify ignoring prior decisions.” The IAC further explained in the present case, “there appears to be no qualitative distinction in the record that would warrant the extent of departure from prior precedent that was undertaken by the Committee on Infractions.”
The Infractions Appeals Committee may overturn a finding of a violation if it is contrary to the evidence, does not constitute a violation of NCAA rules, or due to a procedural error. A penalty by the Committee on Infractions may be set aside on appeal if the penalty is excessive such that it constituted an abuse of discretion by the Committee on Infractions.