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Former Alabama associate athletics director violated NCAA ethical conduct rules

Download the November 2020 University of Alabama Public Infractions Decision

A former University of Alabama associate athletics director violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he received money in exchange for facilitating a meeting between the father of a student-athlete, a financial advisor and the financial advisor’s representative, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The violations were discovered as part of a broader scheme involving money and influence in college basketball that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals on conspiracy and bribery charges, the committee said in its decision. The behavior uncovered during the federal investigation led to significant NCAA reforms and investigations to determine whether NCAA rules were violated.

The committee said the violations in this case were unique because they resulted from the conduct of an athletics department administrator rather than a coach. The behavior was uncovered when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed a complaint against the financial advisor’s representative that detailed his activities with the financial advisor. Among other conduct, the initial complaint alleged that the financial advisor and his representative facilitated payments from the financial advisor to an individual later identified as the former associate athletics director at Alabama, although a superseding indictment later removed all references to the former associate athletics director. The university and NCAA enforcement staff, however, conducted a collaborative investigation to determine whether NCAA rules were violated.

The university and the enforcement staff agreed the former associate athletics director received at least $3,000 from the financial advisor and his representative for setting up a dinner with the student-athlete’s father.

The former associate athletics director admitted he knew from the first meeting that the financial advisor and his representative wanted access to student-athletes and their parents. The committee said he also knew they wanted him to facilitate that access because it would enhance their credibility in the eyes of potential clients.

The meetings violated NCAA rules because athletics department staff members are prohibited from receiving benefits for facilitating or arranging a meeting between a student-athlete or their family members and an agent, financial advisor or a representative of an agent or advisor.

“The nature of the conduct — selling access to student-athletes and their families — completely undermines the Association’s foundational values,” the committee said in its decision.

The former associate athletics director also violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he refused to provide information relevant to the investigation.

The case was resolved by using a cooperative summary disposition, a process in which involved parties collectively submit the case to the committee in written form. All participating parties must agree to the facts of the case for this process to be used instead of a formal hearing.

The committee proposed a three-year probation period and a fine. The university did not agree with the panel’s proposed penalties and requested an expedited penalty hearing. The panel reviewed the penalty on the written record and determined this case requires more than the minimum penalties, given the substantive nature of the violations and the associate athletics director’s leadership role within the athletics administration and oversight over the men’s basketball program. The university may appeal the penalties. The committee also proposed a 10-year show-cause order for the former associate athletics director’s violations. Because the he did not participate in the process, he does not have the opportunity to appeal the penalty.

“The panel recognizes that the violations in this case were unique in that they resulted from an administrator’s conduct rather than an individual within the sport program. Although that relationship is different, it does not absolve Alabama from responsibility, nor does it suggest that only minimum penalties are appropriate,” the panel said it in decision.

The committee classified the case as Level I-Mitigated for the school and Level I-Aggravated for the former associate athletics director. The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Three years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget.
  • A 10-year show-cause order for the former associate athletics director. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Jody Conradt, retired head women’s basketball coach and special assistant to athletics at Texas; Alberto Gonzales, chief hearing officer for the case and dean of the law school at Belmont and former attorney general of the United States; Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Kay Norton, president emeritus of Northern Colorado; and Sarah Wake, associate general counsel and associate vice president for equity at Northwestern.