This week the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its weekly summary of the biggest news stories in NCAA compliance and enforcement. Below are the top stories for this past week.
Takeaway: Nashville-based seven-on-seven coach Byron De’Vinner told Yahoo! Sports disassociated Mississippi State University booster Robert Denton Herring broke NCAA extra benefits regulations in an effort to help MSU land then-prospective student-athlete Will Redmond. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions athletics compliance offices implement a high-profile student-athlete and third party due-diligence program at their institution. This program should include, at a minimum, components that can be found here.
Takeaway: Allie Greenspan of Inside Higher Ed discussed the rationale behind the NCAA’s lack of involvement in the recent University of North Carolina academic scandal involving African and Afro-American Studies classes from 2007 through 2011. Greenspan reasons because there was no indication any student-athlete received “more favorable treatment” than non-athletes there were no violations in terms of extra-benefits legislation regarding the receipt of grades without submitting written work. In terms of academic fraud, NCAA legislation does not set out a definition nor does it set out any parameters regarding what would constitute academic fraud. The lack of any formal definition causes a gray area when issues beyond academic dishonesty occur.
Takeaway: Matt Kupec, a former quarterback for UNC-Chapel Hill who later returned to become its chief fundraiser, resigned after an internal investigation showed he and university fundraiser Tami Hansbrough appear to have taken personal trips at the university’s expense. At this time UNC does not expect there will be issues regarding violations of NCAA legislation. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp has stated an audit of Tami Hansbrough’s travel while she worked in the found she had been traveling to cities in which her son Tyler and then-UNC basketball student-athlete was playing. However, Thorp stated the trips were legitimate because she was raising money for the university — and fans who made the trips likely would be donors.
Takeaway: SI.com has reported Harvard senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry are expected to miss the entire 2012-13 season after being accused in a widespread academic cheating scandal. The institution had announced in an August 30th letter that its administrative board was investigating allegations that approximately 125 undergraduates “may have committed acts of academic dishonesty, ranging from inappropriate collaboration to outright plagiarism, on a take-home final exam.” The exam was for Government 1310: Introduction to Congress, a spring 2012 class with an enrollment of 279. Any student-athletes involved in the scandal would likely trigger violations of NCAA Bylaw 10.1(b).
Takeaway: Both Duke University and the NCAA have informed ESPN.com they are working together to gather information regarding the lawsuit involving former Duke men’s basketball student-athlete Lance Thomas. Thomas is being sued by a New York jeweler for not paying the balance of what he owes after buying $100,000 in custom jewelry that season. The possible issues involving the NCAA legislation revolve around Thomas’ ability to make a $30,000 down payment and secure $67,800 in credit for the remaining balance. A student-athlete’s athletics reputation, skill or pay-back potential as a future professional athlete cannot be considered by the lending agency in its decision to provide a loan. If the matter settles, one interesting story to follow will be any confidentiality agreement signed between parties. The NCAA’s lack of subpoena power could hinder the association’s ability to investigate the matter adequately.