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Former Sam Houston State women’s tennis coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance

Download the 2017 Sam Houston Public Infractions Decision

The former Sam Houston State head women’s tennis coach failed to promote an atmosphere of NCAA rules compliance  when he knowingly engaged in impermissible recruiting contact and was involved in giving $1,167 in benefits to a student-athlete before and after she enrolled at the university, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort in which the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and participating parties must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

The former coach communicated with a transfer student-athlete before she was given a written release from her previous school providing the coach with permission to contact her. During Facebook conversations, the former coach and transfer student-athlete discussed test scores, admission to Sam Houston State and her financial situation. He knew she needed to get a written release from her school to have recruiting contact, so the former coach repeatedly reminded her to do so during their conversations. He also directed two student-athletes to impermissibly reach out to four women’s tennis prospects on Facebook and Skype.

The former coach provided and arranged for $1,167 in benefits for the transfer student-athlete before and after she enrolled at the university. To help her with her finances, the former coach purchased two tennis rackets for her, and paid for her membership in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and entry fees for two ITA tournaments. Before and after her enrollment, the former coach paid the recruit to restring tennis rackets, but did not take the necessary steps to notify the university about the employment, contrary to the university’s employment policy. The former coach also worked with a booster to arrange for the transfer student-athlete to stay with a local family cost-free.

The panel noted the former coach’s conduct demonstrated both an awareness of NCAA rules and a lax attitude toward complying with them. The former coach said he was trying to help the transfer student-athlete because her financial situation worried him, but the panel said his good intentions do not excuse his disregard for foundational and well-known rules. When he personally involved himself in recruiting and extra benefits violations, he did not promote an atmosphere of rules compliance within the women’s tennis program and violated NCAA ethical conduct rules.

The panel used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • A three-year show-cause period for the former head coach from June 20, 2017, through June 19, 2020. During that period, any NCAA member school employing the former coach in an athletics role must suspend him from 30 percent of the first season of his employment.  
  • A prohibition of the women’s tennis staff from engaging in recruiting communications with prospects and their families for two consecutive weeks during the spring 2018 semester.
  • A two-year disassociation of the booster. Details of the disassociation can be found in the public report.  
  •  A reduction in the number of women’s tennis scholarships by one during the 2016-17 year (self-imposed by the university).
  • 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 are Michael F. Adams, chancellor at Pepperdine; William Bock III, attorney in private practice; Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green; Thomas Hill, senior policy advisor to the president of Iowa State; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Joseph D. Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois; and Sankar Suryanarayan, chief hearing officer for the panel and university counsel at Princeton.