On October 23, 2012, Towson University athletic director Mike Waddell refuted accusations by a former football student-athlete that the institution’s football program had exceeded the team’s practice time limits and then reported inaccurate times to the athletics compliance office.
Waddell explained through a statement, “earlier this fall, a former Towson University student-athlete brought to the attention of the Assistant AD for Compliance, allegations of miscalculated football practice times and his concern for the welfare of our football student-athletes. Towson University Athletics takes any allegations regarding the welfare of our student-athletes and NCAA violations very seriously. The Assistant AD for Compliance immediately conducted a full investigation. No improprieties regarding practice times were found and no findings indicated that the physical well-being of football student-athletes was placed in jeopardy.”
The full article can be found here.
The Buckner Law firm recommends institutions have written policies and procedures for conducting internal investigations into alleged rules-violations when matters such as this are reported. 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.