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Former East Tennessee State men’s tennis coach failed to promote atmosphere for compliance

Download the Sep. 2018 East Tennessee State University Public Infractions Decisions

The former East Tennessee State head men’s tennis coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance when he allowed a student-athlete who was a nonqualifier to practice and, along with a booster, provided impermissible benefits to student-athletes, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. The former head coach also violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he refused to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff’s investigation.  Further, an assistant coach failed to report violations. 

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 enforcement staff, university and participating individuals must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

Over the course of five years, the former head coach and a booster provided approximately 14 men’s tennis student-athletes with $9,937 in impermissible benefits, the committee said. The booster provided most of the benefits in the form of housing-related benefits. The former head coach provided gifts, free lodging and other items. He did not reach out to the university’s compliance office to ask whether he could permissibly provide the benefits. As a result, approximately 12 men’s tennis student-athletes competed in 295 contests while ineligible.  

In addition to the benefits, the former head coach knowingly allowed a student-athlete who was a nonqualifier to practice and travel with the team to a competition. The former head coach allowed this to happen even after he was expressly informed by the compliance office that the student-athlete could not practice or travel with the team. The assistant men’s tennis coach was aware the student-athlete was a nonqualifier and could not practice or travel with the team but did not report his knowledge of violations to the university.

The panel used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures, some of which were self-imposed by East Tennessee State:

  • Two years of probation from Sept. 26, 2018, through Sept. 25, 2020.
  • A five-year show-cause order for the former head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing the former coach must restrict him from any athletically related duties.
  • The assistant coach, who is the current head women’s tennis coach, must be suspended from all recruiting activity, including communications, for a three-week period during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university). The assistant coach also must be suspended from all head coaching duties for two dates of competition during the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university will provide a written report containing the matches impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
  • A reduction of men’s tennis scholarships to no more than 4.19 equivalencies during the 2019-20 academic year. This is a 2 percent reduction from the average number awarded from the 2014-15 academic year through the 2017-18 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A ban on official and unofficial visits during the three weeks of the assistant coach’s recruiting suspension (self-imposed by the university).
  • A two-year disassociation of the booster involved in the case.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).

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 include Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Carol Cartwright, president emerita at Kent State and Bowling Green; Gregory Christopher, chair of the Committee on Infractions and athletics director at Xavier; Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president of academic affairs at West Virginia; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Eleanor W. Myers, law professor at Temple; and Sankar Suryanarayan, chief hearing officer for this panel and university counsel at Princeton.