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Former Wilmington head women’s tennis coach provided impermissible benefits

Download the April 2019 Wilmington University Public Infractions Decision

A former Wilmington head women’s tennis coach violated ethical conduct rules when he knowingly provided nearly $3,000 in impermissible benefits to student-athletes, according to a decision issued by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions. The former coach also violated head coach responsibility rules when he failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance by providing the impermissible benefits, the committee found.

In its decision, the committee said the former coach knowingly provided seven women’s tennis student-athletes with impermissible benefits, including cash for food, transportation-related expenses and tuition. The head coach also gave more than 200 impermissible rides to seven student-athletes. Finally, the former coach impermissibly gave a student-athlete a digital camera and perfume. The violations resulted in student-athletes competing while ineligible.

The committee noted the student-athletes grew dependent on the former coach for some of the benefits because of the commuter nature of the campus. The former coach told the student-athletes to keep the benefits a secret and warned they could lose their scholarships if they reported the benefits.

“By creating a dependency for the student-athletes on the benefits and then ordering them to remain silent, the former coach abused his position of trust with the student-athletes he was hired to protect,” the committee said in its decision. “This culture of control over the student-athletes allowed the violations to continue undetected for three years.”

The former coach further violated NCAA ethical conduct rules and failed to cooperate when he refused to participate in an interview with the NCAA enforcement staff.

The case was resolved through a cooperative summary disposition, a process where 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 university accepted the penalties and cannot appeal. Since the former coach did not respond to communication about the proposed show-cause order, he cannot appeal.

The committee prescribed the following penalties and corrective measures:

  • One year of probation.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public decision release.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • A five-year show-cause order for the former coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must show cause why he should not have restrictions on athletically related activity.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members who reviewed this case are John David Lackey, attorney in private practice; Richard Loosbrock, faculty athletics representative and history professor at Adams State; Jason Sobolik, assistant athletics director for compliance and student services at Minnesota State University Moorhead; Harry O. Stinson III, Division II Committee on Infractions chair and athletics director at Lincoln (Pennsylvania); and Christie Ward, associate athletics director for compliance and senior woman administrator at Georgia Southwestern.