Two former University of Southern Mississippi men’s tennis coaches were cited for unethical conduct for promising impermissible benefits to student-athletes, engaging in academic misconduct. Also, one of the coaches directed a student-athlete to lie during the investigation, according to a decision announced today by the Division I Committee on Infractions.
Southern Mississippi also was cited for failing to monitor its men’s tennis program.
Penalties in the case include a one-year postseason ban for the men’s tennis program, four years of probation for the school, a seven-year show-cause order for the former head coach and a six-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach.
According to the facts in the case, the former coaches offered a former student-athlete $5,000 and a car to encourage the student-athlete to remain at Southern Mississippi. Additionally, when the student-athlete was losing a specific match, the former head coach offered to pay the same student-athlete $200 if he won.
The former coaches also initiated plagiarism and academic misconduct during the fall of 2009. Specifically, the former head coach paid a second former student-athlete $150 to write a paper for the previously mentioned student-athlete. The former assistant coach continued the academic misconduct by providing the student-athlete with essays that the student-athlete submitted as his own work.
Compounding the unethical conduct, the former coaches refused to participate in the enforcement staff interviews. The former head coach withheld true and complete information during Southern Mississippi’s investigation. In addition, the former assistant coach instructed the former student-athlete to “deny everything” during his interviews.
Additionally, the committee found that the former head coach did not follow travel policies and procedures, the athletics senior staff did not maintain proper documents nor provide general administrative oversight over the men’s tennis program and the department failed to provide the athletics compliance function with the necessary staff and resources. As a result, the committee found that Southern Mississippi failed to monitor its men’s tennis program.
Penalties in this case include:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Four years probation from January 30, 2013 through January 29, 2017.
- One-year postseason ban for men’s tennis (imposed by the university).
- Seven-year show-cause order for the former head coach and a six-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. The public report contains further details.
- Prohibition of foreign tour participation for the tennis program until 2016.
- Vacation of all wins in which the former student-athletes competed while ineligible during the 2008-09 through 2009-10 men’s tennis seasons (imposed by the university).
The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include John S. Black, attorney; Greg Christopher, athletics director at Bowling Green State University; Christopher L. Griffin, coordinator of appeals and attorney; Brian Halloran, attorney; Eleanor W. Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; James O'Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; Jerry Parkinson, the William T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming; Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, faculty athletics representative and the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law; Greg Sankey, executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference; and Rodney J. Uphoff, acting chair of the Committee on Infractions and law professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia.