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Grambling failed to monitor its certification process; track program commits violations

Download the July 2017 Grambling State University Public Infractions Decision

Grambling did not monitor its certification process when it improperly certified the eligibility of 45 student-athletes in 11 sports, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. An assistant track coach also violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she, in addition to a booster and former graduate assistant, provided approximately $1,500 in housing, meals, transportation and cash to an international prospect and, to a limited extent, the prospect’s father. The head track coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he did not stop or report the violations when he learned about them.

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 NCAA 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. The panel held an expedited penalty hearing because the university did not agree with some of the proposed penalties.

The academic certification violations were discovered by the university through an NCAA Academic Performance Program data review. The panel found the university did not properly certify student-athletes’ amateurism status and progress-toward-degree requirements. As a result, student-athletes either practiced, received expenses and/or competed while ineligible. The violations resulted from structural and organizational issues at the university, including deficient policies and procedures, staff turnover and confusion over certification responsibilities. In its decision, the panel reminded member schools that eligibility certification is a fundamental responsibility of member schools and a vital function of college athletics.

Regarding the violations in the track program, the international prospect arrived at the university in January 2015, but was unable to enroll in classes due to securing the wrong visa. Rather than return home, she remained in the area and received impermissible housing, meals and cash from the assistant coach, booster and former graduate assistant. To a more limited extent, her father received impermissible transportation and lodging from the assistant coach and booster. Instead of checking with compliance or alerting the university to the prospect’s status, the assistant coach and others provided her with the impermissible support.

The panel noted that while the assistant coach suggested she was attempting to lend a helping hand, it is well established that coaches cannot provide prospects with free housing or other benefits. Even if she was confused about the prospect’s status after not enrolling at the university, she did not ask for guidance from the compliance office. Further, while the head coach was not directly involved in providing or arranging for the housing, meals, transportation or cash, he agreed that he did not fulfill his responsibilities as a head of a program when he did not stop or report the violations.

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

  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • Two years of probation from July 28, 2017, through July 27, 2019.
  • A two-year show-cause period for the assistant coach from July 28, 2017, through July 27, 2019. During that period, the university or any NCAA member employing her must prohibit her from off-campus recruiting during the first year; suspend her from two track meets (self-imposed by the university); require her to attend ethics training and NCAA Regional Rules Seminars during each year of the period; and provide monthly one-on-one rules education.
  • A two-year show-cause period for the head coach from July 28, 2017, through July 27, 2019. During that period, the university or any NCAA member employing him must suspend him from 30 percent of the 2017-18 season; require him to attend ethics training and NCAA Regional Rules Seminars during each year of the period; and provide monthly one-on-one rules education.
  • A reduction in women’s track and field scholarships by one equivalency during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 years.
  • A reduction in recruiting days by 15 days during the 2017-18 year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A vacation of records in which improperly certified student-athletes participated while ineligible. The university will identify the games impacted following the release of the public report. 
  • A $5,000 fine.

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, Princeton.