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Arkansas Pine Bluff improperly certified student-athletes

Download: Arkansas Pine Bluff Infraction Decision

Over five academic years, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff failed to monitor and control the administration of its athletics program, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. The university wrongly certified 124 student-athletes for competition, including nine student-athletes that competed before the NCAA Eligibility Center certified their amateur status. The university learned of deficiencies in its eligibility certification process in 2009, but failed to correct the deficiencies, which allowed ineligible student-athletes to continue to compete until 2012.

Penalties include five years of probation; a postseason ban for the football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball teams; a vacation of all wins in which ineligible student-athletes participated; and scholarship reductions for 11 of the university’s teams.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing. An expedited penalty hearing was held because the university did not agree to all of the proposed penalties.

The university did not correctly apply progress-toward-degree, degree credit hour, nonqualifier status and two-year transfer requirements when certifying student-athletes as eligible for competition. During the five years, 124 student-athletes practiced, competed or received athletics aid while ineligible, and a majority also received impermissible travel expenses.

From 2007-08 through 2009-10, 19 student-athletes from various teams competed when they did not appear on the official squad lists, contrary to NCAA rules. During the same time period, the university provided books to 15 student-athletes who did not have a book scholarship..

The university did not provide adequate NCAA rules education and training to staff members responsible for certifying student-athlete eligibility. The lack of education and training contributed to the improper eligibility certifications and resulted in ineligible student-athletes participating in hundreds of contests. It also did not establish a proper system to ensure compliance with NCAA eligibility rules. Because of this and the full scope of the violations, the university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor the administration of its athletics program.

Penalties and corrective measures include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Five years of probation from November 5, 2014 through November 4, 2019.
  • A 2014-15 postseason ban for the football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball teams.
  • A vacation of all wins in which ineligible student-athletes competed during the 2007-08 through 2011-12. The public report contains further details on the vacation.
  • A reduction in scholarships for baseball; women’s and men’s track and field; softball; women’s soccer; men’s golf; women’s volleyball; men’s and women’s basketball; women’s tennis; and football. The public report contains more details on the reductions.
  • A comprehensive compliance review by an outside agency with athletics compliance expertise.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier University; Thomas Hill, senior vice president for student affairs at Iowa State University; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota athletics director; Jim O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; and Greg Sankey, executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference.