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College Sports, Division I, Division II, Division III

NCAA Infractions Report Released in University of Oregon Case: Case Review, Penalty Analysis and Internal Investigation Recommendations

Case Review

On June 26, 2013, the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI) issued its decision regarding the enforcement case involving the University of Oregon (Oregon). The COI determined Oregon used a recruiting service provider, who became a representative of the university’s athletics interests, to assist the school with the recruitment of multiple prospective student-athletes. The COI further determined the representative provided cash and free lodging to a prospective student-athlete (PSA) and engaged in impermissible calls and off-campus contacts with football PSAs, their families and high school coaches. Oregon and former head football coach Chip Kelly agreed they failed to monitor the institution’s football program.

Penalties on Institution

  • public reprimand and censure (this is standard in NCAA infractions cases); and
  • three-year probationary period from June 26, 2013, through June 25, 2016 (the standard probationary period is two years and this is what the institution proposed. However, the COI chose to add an additional year).

Penalties on Football Program

  • reduction of initial athletically-related financial aid awards in football by one from the maximum allowed (25) during both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (the institution proposed this reduction, which was accepted by the COI);
  • reduction of total athletically-related financial aid awards by one from the maximum allowed (85) during the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years (the institution proposed this reduction, which was accepted by the COI);
  • reduction in paid official visits from 56 to 37 by for each of the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-6 academic years (while this may seem like the harshest penalty for an institution with a somewhat remote location, Oregon has only used an average of 41 paid official visits over the past four years. Based on this data the real loss would be four (4) rather than 19. Further, the pace of recruiting has diminished the value of the official visit as many PSAs are no longer taking their 5 paid official visits);
  • the permissible number of football evaluation days shall be limited to 36 (of 42)

    in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015. The permissible number of football evaluation days shall be limited to 144 (of 168) in the spring of 2014, 2015 and 2016 (the institution proposed this reduction, which was accepted by the COI);

  • a ban on the subscription to recruiting services during the period of probation (believed to be the first time this penalty has been imposed. With the amount of free available information this penalty may not have much “teeth” to it); and
  • the recruiting service provider will be disassociated by the institution’s athletics

    program upon release of this report (basically means that Willie Lyles may no longer have contact with the football program).

Penalties on Chip Kelly

  • 18-month show-cause order upon Kelly from June 26, 2013 through December 25, 2014 (if any member institution seeks to hire the Kelly in an athletically-related capacity, it and the Kelly shall appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider which, if any, of the show-cause procedures of Bylaw 19.5.2.2 (l) should be imposed upon Kelly. Essentially this means if Kelly is somehow no longer employed in the NFL before the expiration of the show-cause order and a member institution wishes to hire him the penalties will be decided by the COI at that point).

Internal Investigation Recommendations 

A well-run internal investigation will enable NCAA member institutions to make a reliable and legally defensible finding as to what occurred, assist the institution in strengthening its position in determining the appropriate findings and sanctions, and develop sound policy and procedure recommendations to enhance campus operations to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. As a result, the Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions take the following steps (at a minimum) when drafting internal investigation policies and procedures;

  1. the internal investigation policies and procedures must be in writing;
  2. the internal investigation policies and procedures must be approved by the institution’s president or chancellor;
  3. the lead investigator should be identified in the policies and procedures (or outline how the lead investigator will be selected/appointed if utilizing an outside firm to conduct the investigation);
  4. list the duties and responsibilities of all institutional staff members who will be involved with the investigation;
  5. require a timely review of all allegations in order to determine whether a full-scale investigation is necessary;
  6. provide educational materials/information to all institutional staff members regarding the institution’s internal investigation policies and procedures;
  7. address how allegations of both major and secondary rules-violations (or Level I, II, II and IV violations in August 2013) are processed by the institution;
  8. satisfy due and fair process requirements, state law, institutional regulations and, if relevant, collective bargaining agreements; and
  9. explain how the investigative findings will be reported to the institution’s president or chancellor, athletics conference and other regulatory agencies (e.g., state governing board, NCAA enforcement staff, etc.).

The full NCAA COI 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)

Discussion

2 thoughts on “NCAA Infractions Report Released in University of Oregon Case: Case Review, Penalty Analysis and Internal Investigation Recommendations

  1. So the NCAA is basically encouraging schools to cheat because the ramifications for being caught are far outweighed by the benefits of cheating in the first place.

    Posted by Jim | June 26, 2013, 12:30 pm
  2. Agree that the sanctions are light. But the NCAA does not decide cases. The COI does, which is made up of independent professionals and people from the NCAA membership (schools/conferences).

    Posted by Justin P. Sievert, Esquire | June 26, 2013, 1:10 pm

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