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College Sports, Division III

NCAA Division III Enforcement Review (Part II)

This past summer the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions released two decisions in the enforcement cases involving Manhattanville College and Illinois College. Today, the Buckner Law Firm will take a brief look inside the Illinois College case.

Illinois College (August 7, 2012)

Summary: The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions found the institution had failed to monitor its athletics program and the head football coach was cited for unethical conduct for providing false information. Specifically, from the 2008-09 academic year through 2010-11, the head football coach and two of his assistant coaches, who also served as head coaches for the swimming and men’s golf programs, sent 515 impermissible text messages to 81 prospective student-athletes. Of particular concern to the committee was the fact that the coaches had been educated on the relevant rules, knew text messages were impermissible, and yet chose to commit the violations. The two involved assistant coaches also failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when they utilized impermissible recruiting text messages in their roles as head coaches for swimming and men’s golf. The violations were discovered when college’s president received an anonymous letter regarding issues in the football program. The director of athletics then asked the head football coach if he had sent text messages to recruits. The head coach, however, denied sending text messages before the PSAs submitted their initial enrollment deposits.

Takeaway Point: As the Committee noted, institutions must develop policies and procedures for conducting internal investigations into alleged rules-violations. A comprehensive investigation policy and procedure should address: a) What specific event triggers an inquiry; b) How complaints, tips, rumors and anonymous reports concerning possible violations of NCAA legislation are received and reviewed; c) Who conducts the inquiry; and d) What methodologies are used to review possible major and secondary violations. Overall, an investigation policy and procedure should include the following elements:

  • Expectation statement documenting the obligation of institutional personnel, students and athletic representatives to report possible violations of NCAA legislation.
  • Procedures designed to impose “immediate and severe consequences” for failing to report alleged violations of NCAA legislation or to act immediately once an alleged violation is discovered.
  • Regularly scheduled compliance meetings with the compliance officer, compliance staff, faculty athletics representative, initial eligibility certifying officer and other personnel with compliance-related duties. The meetings enable personnel with compliance-related duties to share or piece together rumors or possible allegations of improper conduct.
  • Procedures designating an institutional official as responsible for contacting the NCAA vice president for enforcement services and the conference office when the institution has determined it will investigate allegations of possible major violations.
  • Procedures governing how internal investigators will be retained or appointed.
  • Procedures to conduct an independent and thorough investigation and plan the investigation report. The procedures also should require the report’s submission to institutional administrators, including the chief executive officer and the director of athletics, within a reasonable period.
  • Procedures defining clear duties and responsibilities for administrators (including the director of athletics, compliance coordinator, faculty athletics representative and general counsel) during an investigation.
  • Procedures to address and correct identified deficiencies in policies, procedures and processes within the institution and athletics program.
  • Procedures for reporting rules-violations, corrective measures and self-imposed penalties to the institution’s athletic conference and the NCAA enforcement staff.
  • Procedures to incorporate the investigation policy and procedure into the athletic compliance education program.

The full case report can be found here.

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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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