On March 1, 2013, the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions (Committee) released its decision regarding the St. Mary’s (California) enforcement case. The Committee found St. Mary’s to have failed to monitor its men’s basketball program and a former assistant men’s basketball coach acted unethically in his recruitment of international prospects. The case also included a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head men’s basketball coach as well as impermissible training and coaching sessions.
The penalties in this case included: (1) public reprimand and censure; (2) four years probation; (3) a five-game suspension for the head men’s basketball coach; (4) recruiting restrictions for the head men’s basketball coach; (5) a two-year show-cause order for the former assistant men’s basketball coach; (6) a reduction in men’s basketball scholarships from 13 to 11 for a two-year period; and (7) a one-year ban from multiple-team events for the men’s basketball program.
The Committee’s analysis provides the following key points for institutions and coaches at the Division I level:
- Institutions must be proactive in investigating any potential rules-violations. At a minimum, institutions should: (1) prepare a written investigation policy and procedure; (2) investigate all allegations and complaints thoroughly and efficiently; (3) make consistent investigation-related decisions (e.g., consistent employee punishment, investigating certain allegations according to standard operating procedure); (4) prohibit retaliation against employees or student-athletes that complain or assert allegations; (5) prepare a coordinated media strategy; (6) discuss the investigation only with persons who have the “need to know”; (7) stay objective throughout the investigation; (8) use fair investigation tactics (do not violate federal and/or state privacy rights or physically restrain employees or student-athletes by locking doors during interviews); and (9) prepare a detailed self-report.
- When hiring any athletics staff members or coaches a thorough background check must occur in order to alert the athletic department of any potential “red flags”. Here, the head men’s basketball coach knew, or should have known, the nature of these relationships and the former assistant men’s basketball coach and should have alerted him to the need for heightened vigilance with regard to the former coach’s recruiting activities.
- Athletic departments must include part-time and volunteer employees in their policies and procedures to ensure better oversight and reporting assignments for such individuals.