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Four Radford University coaches cited for unethical conduct

Radford University committed major violations in its men’s basketball and tennis programs, according to the Division I Committee on Infractions. The underlying violations in the case centered on recruiting inducements and extra benefits committed by one current and four former coaches, primarily involving impermissible transportation, lodging and meals.

These violations were exacerbated by efforts of the men’s basketball staff, led by the former head coach, to conceal some of the violations during the investigation. As a result, the former head men’s basketball coach, two former assistant basketball coaches and a former director of operations were cited for unethical conduct. The former head coach was also found for a failure to promote compliance.

“This case is one in a series of recent infractions in which there has been either a concerted effort to cover up violations, or there was a deliberate failure to report violations,” the committee stated in its report. “In each of those cases, the concealment resulted in more serious violations and penalties than the original case might have warranted.”

Penalties for the case include scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, vacation of records, two years probation and a $2,000 fine. In addition, the former head coach received a five-year show-cause penalty restricting any recruiting activity. Two former assistant coaches and the former director of operations each received a two-year show-cause restricting any off-campus recruiting.

As a part of the initial violations in this case, members of the men’s basketball and tennis coaching staffs provided impermissible benefits to several men’s basketball student-athletes and two men’s tennis student-athletes. Further, the men’s basketball staff provided and arranged transportation and lodging for a prospective student-athlete.

The basketball staff compromised the integrity of the investigation by providing false, misleading and incomplete information to the investigators. The staff also communicated with each other about the enforcement staff’s inquiry, sometimes going so far as to use prepaid cellular phones in order to conceal conversations from the university and NCAA enforcement staff. Further, both the former head coach and one of his assistant coaches encouraged a student-athlete to provide false and misleading information during the investigation, requiring him to practice his story with them prior to his interview with the university and NCAA enforcement staff.

“The basketball coaches in this case, led by the head coach, not only abdicated their responsibility to act in an ethical manner as NCAA coaches, but they also failed in their stewardship of the student-athletes in their program,” stated the committee in its report.

In addition to knowingly violating NCAA rules and directing others to do so, the committee noted the former head coach was in a position to prevent the majority of the violations from occurring, yet failed to do so. Instead, he undermined the compliance office’s efforts to ensure the university was following NCAA rules, demonstrating a lack of commitment to ensuring a culture of compliance in the men’s basketball program.

“This case affirms the importance of hiring head coaches committed to following the rules, because the tone they set for their programs is the single most important element in assuring program integrity and rules compliance,” stated the committee in its report.

When determining the penalties, the committee noted the university self-detected and self-reported the majority of the violations, cooperating fully when investigators arrived on campus.

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Two years of probation from February 24, 2012, through February 23, 2014.
  • Five-year show-cause penalty for the former head coach prohibiting any recruiting activity. The public report contains further details.
  • Two-year show-cause penalty prohibiting any off-campus recruiting activity for the two former assistant coaches and director of operations. The public report contains further details.
  • Suspension of the head tennis coach for two consecutive contests during the 2011 season (self-imposed by the university).
  • Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by a total of two during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
  • Vacation of the four wins during the 2010-11 season when a student-athlete competed while ineligible. The public report includes further details.
  • $2,000 penalty, equal to $500 for each time the student-athlete competed while ineligible.
  • Reduction of two official paid visits in men’s basketball during the 2011-12 academic year (self-imposed by the university).

The Division I Committee on Infractions is an independent group comprised of representatives across NCAA membership and the public. The members of the committee who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are John S. Black, attorney; Melissa (Missy) Conboy, deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative for University of Oregon; Gregory Sankey, associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference; Dennis Thomas, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; and Rodney Uphoff, law professor for University of Missouri, Columbia.