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College Sports, Education

Infractions Decision in the Oregon Case: What is a Failure to Monitor?

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released its decision in the University of Oregon case on June 26, 2013. The decision can be located at the NCAA website, www.ncaa.org. The committee determined the institution used a recruiting service provider, who became a representative of the university’s athletics interests (“booster”), to assist the institution with the recruitment of numerous prospective student-athletes. The committee also found the booster provided cash and free lodging to a prospect and engaged in impermissible calls and off-campus contacts with football prospects, their families and high-school coaches. Further, the committee determined the institution’s football program allowed staff members to engage in recruiting activities—the actions caused the football program to exceed NCAA coaching limits. Finally, the former head football coach and the institution agreed that they failed to monitor the football program.

The Committee on Infractions imposed numerous penalties, including:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from June 26, 2013 through June 25, 2016.
  • An 18-month show cause order for the former head coach.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former assistant director of operations.
  • A reduction of initial football scholarships by one from the maximum allowed (25) during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
  • A reduction of total football scholarships by one from the maximum allowed (85) during the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years.
  • A reduction of official paid football visits to from 56 to 37 for the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
  • A reduction of permissible football evaluation days from 42 to 36 in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015 and permissible football evaluation days from 168 to 144 in the spring of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
  • A ban on the subscription to recruiting services during the probation period.
  • A disassociation of the recruiting service provider.

NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 declares a member institution “shall comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the Association in the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics programs” and “shall monitor its programs to assure compliance and to identify and report to the Association instances in which compliance has not been achieved”. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm reviewed the decision in the Oregon case to continue its exploration of an institution’s duty to monitor compliance with NCAA legislation. [See the April 18, 2012, and March 21, 2012, issues of the firm’s newsletter, College Athletics Best Practices Alert, for more discussion on an institution’s duty to monitor.]

According to the committee, an institution has a duty to monitor the following activities:

Issue One: Recruiting or scouting services.

1. “Alerting coaches that rules must be followed is not enough; effective compliance demands ongoing and specific rules education.” The firm recommends an institution provide an education and training program that is: specific to the needs of each athletics staff member; and delivered in various formats and media (e.g., workshops, newsletters, online resources, manuals, small-group discussions, videos); and conducted on a regular basis (e.g., monthly).

2. “Effective monitoring requires checking to see whether compliance with the rules has occurred.” According to the committee, an institution must follow-up with recruiting service providers to see that compliance-related forms are properly completed and filed. Further, the institution is required to check with coaching staffs to see that the recruiting service providers are submitting quarterly reports.

Issue Two: Reporting a possible rules violation.

1. An athletics staff member is obligated under NCAA legislation to report his or her concerns about a possible rules-violation to the athletics compliance office or an athletics administrator.

2. The institution should establish a process to receive such allegations and concerns and educate employees with athletically-related duties on the process.

Issue Three: Telephone activity of non-coaching staff members.

1. An institution should conduct rules-education sessions tailored directly for sports teams’ operations staff.

2. An institution should implement a monitoring system for the sports teams’ operation staff’s telephone calls.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

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